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Sask. Crown land leases move to auction format

Sask. Crown land leases move to auction format

In the current Crown land auction, the Government has 22,186 acres available

 
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Saskatchewan farmers now have the opportunity to lease Crown land through an online auction format.

The Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture currently has 107 lots which are comprised of 196 parcels of Crown land up for auction on McDougall Auctioneers Ltd.’s website.

The 22,186 acres are a mix of cultivated land and pastureland. The bidding opened on March 3 and closing dates are staggered, said Wally Hoehn. He is the executive director of the Lands branch of the ministry.

“The first group of properties, the closing date for it is March 15 and then the last closing date is March 19,” he told Farms.com.

This is the first year the Crown land leases are being allocated in an auction format. They used to be distributed using a different system, said Hoehn.

“The process before this was we used three criteria: age, proximity and land base. Then a point score was attributed to each one of those categories. So, we would allocate land strictly based on the point score,” he explained.

The scoring system took a lot of time and effort and wasn’t working well anymore, said Hoehn.

“We found that it just wasn't meeting the market anymore. Some of the information that was being provided wasn't 100 per cent accurate and we just wanted to go something more transparent,” he said.

This older system became outdated and there was a desire for a different system, said Hoehn.

“We thought it was time to look at something new. So, we did a pilot project (in 2019). The feedback on it was very positive. People like that it's an open competitive process, it's very transparent,” he said.

The new online auction format allows bidders to bid on the lease of the land. The highest bidder does need to fill out an application to lease the land and a farmland security declaration.

“In Saskatchewan, we have the Farmland Security Act and it specifies who can have an interest in Crown land in Saskatchewan, and agricultural Crown land is no different,” Hoehn said.

If the highest bidder meets all the criteria, which also includes having good standing accounts with the ministry and Saskatchewan Crop Insurance, they will then get the lease of the land. If they do not, the lease is offered to the next highest bidder.

If land does not get bid on in this auction, it will roll into the next one the ministry has, which will happen yearly around February or March moving forward. If land does not receive any bids for several auctions, the ministry looks at the reasoning behind this and would consider moving it to the Ministry of Environment, said Hoehn.

Feedback on the auction happening currently is positive and of the 107 parcels of land, 64 have bids on them, said Hoehn.

“There are a few people that don't like that competitive side of it. They don't like the dollar driving it, but I think in the end the comments are way more positive. The public is very supportive of this,” he said.

Nancy Anderson/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo


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