Farming in the North: groups promoting ag on Crown land
Multiple provinces hope to expand cattle production into northern communities
By Kaitlynn Anderson
Across Canada, provincial and territorial governments have different procedures for people to follow in order to obtain access to Crown land. Some ag organizations are working with these governments to help farmers — especially beef producers — use the land.
Ralph Eichler, Manitoba’s Minister of Agriculture, announced in December that the province will modernize its land regulations, according to a release by the Manitoba Beef Producers (MBP).
The revised regulations, which provide more transparency to producers, will include a new model for farmers to follow to acquire Crown lands for grazing and haying, a government release stated.
The government will hold a consultation period before the new tendering system is introduced, according to the release. The system could be in place as early as the fall.
The MBP has some concerns with the current structure. The organization will participate in the consultation process to help ensure that:
- Crown lands “remain affordable and available to Manitoba producers.”
- The bidding process for land is open and transparent.
- “Provincial conservation objectives work in balance with the objectives of producers.”
- Farmers can acquire hay permits.
“Crown lands are critical to the operations of many Manitoba beef producers and to achieving the government’s objective of growing the cattle herd, so it is important that the policy consultation process is open and transparent,” Brian Lemon, general manager of the MBP, said in the MBP release.
For more information on leasing agricultural Crown land in Manitoba, visit the Government of Manitoba website.
In Ontario, the Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) is working with the provincial government to make Crown land more affordable to farmers.
The end goal? Expanding the province’s herd.
“Expanding beef production in Northern Ontario … has been a priority of the BFO for several years,” Matt Bowman, president of the BFO, said in a government release last year.
In fact, this priority was made evident in a resolution response from the previous BFO president in 2015.
“Accessing land for beef production is becoming more and more difficult due to land being converted to cash crops, competing government policies, and urban encroachment,” Bob Gordanier, past president of the Beef Farmers of Ontario, said in the response.
“The available and affordable land in Northern Ontario presents a significant opportunity to help reverse the decline in Ontario’s beef production and increase jobs and income for families, if the proper supports are put in place.”
The organization continues to hold this goal.
“We remain dedicated to creating an affordable pathway for beginning and existing farmers who are looking to establish environmentally sustainable and economically viable farm businesses in the North and across the province,” Bowman said.
If beef producers can access this land for production, they can expand the cow herd and bring local economic development to communities in northern Ontario, according to the Beef North website. (Beef North is part of the BFO’s cow herd expansion initiative.)
Before farmers can use Crown land for agricultural production, they must obtain permission from the MNR, according to the Government of Ontario website. The organization will review the proposed use to ensure it could bring economic growth to the local communities.
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) also plays a role in this review process.
OMAFRA determines whether a proposed project “promotes Ontario's food industry and food safety, rural economic programs, and protection of farmland and businesses that thrive on agricultural production,” according to the website.
In Saskatchewan, the situation is a bit different than in other provinces.
Unlike Ontario and Manitoba, producers in Saskatchewan already utilize Crown land that is suitable for agricultural use, Ryder Lee, chief executive officer of the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association, told Farms.com yesterday.
This scenario eliminates the need for initiatives to help fund producers’ expansion into the North.
Producers can purchase agricultural Crown land in a variety of ways, such as by participating in an auction, or carrying out a lessee, tender or catalogue sale.
While lessee sales — transactions where individuals purchase the agricultural land they had previously leased — can happen at any time, the other purchasing options have set dates.
Most recently, the government held an online auction from Oct. 23 to Nov. 16, 2017. The next online auction will occur in March.
For more information on leasing Crown land for agricultural purposes in Saskatchewan, visit the Government of Saskatchewan website.