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Province Announces Changes To Agricultural Crown Lands Leasing Program

The Manitoba government has introducing a new balanced approach to modernize the Agricultural Crown Lands Leasing Program.
“Agricultural Crown lands are used by approximately 1,750 forage leaseholders and the land administered by this program is sufficient to feed nearly 90,000 cattle for the grazing season,” said Manitoba Agriculture Minister Eichler. “We look forward to working with stakeholders as we begin to implement changes to modernize the program.”
The Agricultural Crown Lands Program supports the sustainable expansion of the livestock herd in Manitoba, contributes to ecological goods and services, and provides mitigation and adaptation to climate change. These leases and permits are available to farmers and ranchers, to provide an additional land base on which to conduct agricultural activities.
“The new approach for leasing Agricultural Crown lands helps bring this process up to date and allows for more opportunity for all producers, especially the next generation, to have access to leases that will positively impact their operations,” said Keystone Ag Producers President Bill Campbell. “We sincerely want to thank the minister and his department for their in-depth and transparent consultation process that allowed all producers to have their voices heard which has ensured that this new approach has all producers in mind.”
In November 2018, the Manitoba government passed The Crown Lands Amendment Act (Improved Management of Community Pastures and Agricultural Crown Lands), which enabled amendments to the Agricultural Crown Lands Leases and Permits Regulation. The regulation updates the Agricultural Crown Lands Program by:
• Implementing a system of allocating agricultural Crown land leases by way of a public auction. Through extensive consultation with stakeholders, it has been determined this is the best way of achieving a fair and transparent system.
• Placing the emphasis on ensuring that agricultural Crown lands are effectively used in a sustainable manner that contributes to economic growth in Manitoba.
• Ensuring that a relevant rent is set for the private use of a public asset. The rent for forage leases will be based on the price of beef cattle, which is relevant for the significant majority of forage agricultural Crown land leases. The rent for cropping leases will remain based on assessed land values.
• Introducing new fees for administrative aspects of the Agricultural Crown Lands Program that afford solely private benefit including allocations and transfers. The fees are nominal in nature to address partial cost recovery without introduction of barriers to participation.
• Implementation of a 15-year maximum for new forage leases to provide a balance that is long enough for current leaseholders to invest in the land, but also provide others, such as new or young farmers, future opportunities to acquire use of the public asset.
“Manitoba Beef Producers (MBP) recognize the effort that the provincial government has put in to modernize the Agricultural Crown Lands Leasing Program. The ability to utilize agricultural Crown lands is critically important to both the current and future viability of Manitoba’s cattle sector,” said Manitoba Beef Producers President Tom Teichroeb. “MBP has appreciated the opportunity to participate in this extensive consultative process. We hope the new regulations as a result of this process will allow these lands to be utilized in the most predictable and transparent manner possible, and MBP will continue to engage with the provincial government as these new regulations roll out, to ensure they are both effective and efficient for producers.”
Eichler added that with the primary use of agricultural Crown lands being for forage, the province seeks to increase the utilization of the lands to support growth of the livestock industry in Manitoba in a sustainable manner, by using market forces to encourage efficient and innovative uses of the agricultural Crown lands.
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