By Jean-Paul McDonald
In a move to alleviate the challenges faced by agricultural producers, the Manitoba government has decided to enhance the affordability of agricultural Crown land (ACL) leases. Effective immediately, Premier Wab Kinew and Agriculture Minister Ron Kostyshyn have unveiled a substantial increase in the temporary rent reduction for ACL forage leases. This increase jumps from the previous 33% to a significant 55% reduction for the upcoming 2024 growing season.
Premier Kinew emphasized the government's commitment to assisting producers who have been grappling with various hardships in recent years. He noted that previous changes made by the former government had adversely impacted Manitoba producers across all aspects of their agricultural businesses, from production to market costs. This new rent reduction measure aims to essentially freeze rates at 2023 levels and provide producers with much-needed support, amounting to over $2 million.
Agricultural Crown lands play a pivotal role in supporting and expanding Manitoba's livestock industry, serving as essential public assets with economic, environmental, and social significance. Minister Kostyshyn reiterated the government's pledge to ensure ACL lease rates remain affordable and align with the goals outlined in the agriculture minister's mandate letter. The government will also continue to assess and refine the ACL program to better serve Manitoba producers.
The Manitoba government places great importance on the sustainable use of Crown land for various purposes, employing a meticulous planning process to determine land use intensity and development possibilities for different parcels. The ACL program contributes to ecological benefits and services while aiding in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Dale Myhre, a veteran rancher in the Parkland region, expressed gratitude for the government's responsive approach to addressing the needs of Crown leaseholders. He acknowledged that this reduction in Crown lease rents has provided much-needed hope to beef producers, who had previously been experiencing desperation.