The amendments could affect succession planning, one farmer said
By Diego Flammini
Manitoba ranchers are unhappy with some of the provincial government’s changes to the Agricultural Crown Lands Leasing Program.
The Province has issued about 1,750 forage leases, and the allocated land can feed around 90,000 cattle.
The new rules, which Manitoba Agriculture announced in a Sept. 27 release, include a provision that shortens lease terms from 50 years to 15 years.
Using a 15-year lease agreement would “provide others, such as new or young farmers, future opportunities to acquire use of the public asset,” the release said.
Ranchers, however, feel differently about that change.
Making lease terms shorter, paired with allocating the leases through a public auction, could put all farmers at a disadvantage when their leases expire.
“I’m basically going to be done with the cattle business. I’ve been in it pretty much my whole life and I’m going to be done,” Arvid Nottveit, a rancher from Peonan Point, Man., told CBC Wednesday.
Nottveit owns 400 acres and until 2034, leases another 9,600 acres for his herd of 340 cows.
Without the stability of a long-term lease, the chances of his children taking over the farm have lessened.
“I was going to set them up,” he told CBC. “I was going to help them get into the business to keep the cow herd going.”
Other producers are also concerned about keeping leased lands in the operation.
“I’d have to bid against any corporation, individual or colony from anywhere across Canada for the right to (farm the land) for another 15 years,” Brent Benson, a producer from Winnipegosis, Man. and spokesperson for the Manitoba Crown Land Leaseholders Association, told the Winnipeg Sun on Oct. 4.
Benson was one of nearly 400 ranchers to attend a community meeting in Ste. Rose du Lac on Oct. 2 about the changes.
Borrowing ideas from the approaches other Prairie provinces use might be a better option, he said.
“What they do in Saskatchewan and Alberta is basically renewals,” he told the Sun. “As long as you meet the requirements of maintaining the farm properly, having your own cattle on it and managing it right you’re allowed to renew” the lease.
Manitoba Agriculture must hold its first public auction by Dec. 27.
As part of a Sept. 18 letter outlining his government’s priorities for the first few months, Premier Pallister mandated a public auction be held within the first 100 days.
Farms.com has reached out to Manitoba Beef Producers for comment.