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Sask. to offer discounts on Crown ag land sales

Saskatchewan’s government plans to offer its Crown ag land leaseholders a new incentive to buy their leased land.

Under the new five-year incentive program starting Nov. 15, leaseholders will have a “sliding scale” incentive to buy their leased land, starting in the first year with a 10 per cent discount on the sale price.

That incentive drops to discounts of eight, six, four and two per cent in the second through fifth years of the program. The first year of the program, for discount purposes, will end Dec. 31, 2009, the province said.

Lessees in this program will also have the option to finance their purchase by providing to the province 50 per cent of the sale price and a payment schedule guarantee for the balance from a recognized financial institution.

A payment schedule guarantee is a commitment by a financial institution to pay the balance owed to the province, according to an established schedule.

About 1.6 million of Saskatchewan’s 7.2 million acres of agricultural Crown land will be eligible under what’s called the Agricultural Crown Land Sale program. The program is strictly optional, but “lessees should know the government’s objective is to see saleable agricultural Crown land in the hands of private ownership,” the province said.

“The province will retain several million acres of agricultural Crown land,” Agriculture Minister Bob Bjornerud said in a release Monday. “This includes land with conservation attributes, important subsurface minerals, located in proximity to major water bodies or having other public or economic values beyond agriculture.”

Land ineligible for this program may include land reserved under the Wildlife Habitat Protection Act, land deemed “environmentally sensitive” or of “significant heritage value,” land containing sand, gravel or commercially harvestable timber, land under active oil or gas exploration or land situated along a major water body.

Other Crown farmland may be ineligible if its sale would “fragment” other Crown holdings or limit access to other Crown land, or if the land is now subject to public use or of value to the province “for the public interest.”

“Never before offered”

The amount of land eligible for sale covers nearly the same number of acres as Prince Edward Island, the province noted.

“Many agricultural Crown land lessees have been asking for this type of program for a very long time,” Bjornerud said. “While agricultural Crown land has been sold to producers since 1947, this type of incentive program has never before been offered in Saskatchewan.”

Details of the program will be sent to all agricultural Crown land lessees and will also be available online.

Lessees interested in buying their leased Crown land should contact the ag department regional offices in Swift Current, North Battleford or Tisdale to see if their leased land is eligible for this program, the province said.

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