Protecting Family Farms

We need to recognize the importance of our farming families and the communities they support

The face of agriculture is changing in Alberta. Increasingly agricultural farm land is being purchased and traded as a commodity instead of its historic role as the bread basket of Canada.

An Alberta Party-led government will take steps to ensure that Alberta’s farming families have the opportunity to continue their part in feeding a global market in cases where the provincial government moves to dispose of surplus Crown lands.

“For generations many of Alberta’s family farms have been land stewards of leased Crown Lands. When the Province sells this Crown Land they are being squeezed out by big business interests. This hurts our communities and does not recognize the generations worth of sweat equity our families have put into the land.” - Casey Douglass, Candidate for the Alberta Party for Cardston-Siksika

The Alberta Party is committed to proposing innovative and practical solutions that improve the lives of Albertans.

“The family farm is increasingly being replaced by big, often foreign-owned, agribusiness. We need to recognize the importance of our farming families and the communities they support. In future, if there is a decision to dispose of Crown Lands currently under lease for agricultural purposes, an Alberta Party-led government will take steps to ensure that the little guy doesn’t get pushed around by the big players in the industry.” - Stephen Mandel, Leader of the Alberta Party

Situation

Alberta agriculture industry has long relied on Crown leases to supplement traditionally owned lands. These farming and ranching families, land stewards, have invested heavily in equipment and livestock which can cover several thousand acres and whose removal is very expensive when the Crown decides to dispose of surplus Crown lands by terminating leases and auctioning off the former Crown lease lands.

Similarly, with cropland Crown leases there are often have several families often under one farm or farm business umbrella supported by crown lease land. These families will have heavily invested in irrigation equipment, power transmission lines, farm machinery, water rights, buildings for grain and machinery storage, trucks, trailers.

When the Crown decides to sell these lands, the timelines are often too restrictive for land steward families to secure sufficient funding to purchase the land and instead larger corporations end up purchasing and consolidating the land as they have a greater ability to raise sufficient funding within restrictive timelines.

Solution

An Alberta-Party led Government will address this. In those cases where the Crown has decided to terminate leases and commence disposal, government will provide existing land stewards with more flexibility to purchase the land by introducing a right of first refusal option for existing land stewards to purchase the land they are currently leasing:

  • 5 year option for ranchland leases; and
  • 10 year option for cropland leases.

Active from the time that the Crown notifies the landowner of the intent to dispose, these windows will allow land stewards to arrange for sufficient funding to purchase the lands, or to complete a timely drawdown of their assets.

Given the direct nature of this sale, an Alberta Party-led government would conduct these sales to the land steward using a net-book value formula, where the savings to the Crown by doing a direct sale would be factored in to the final sale price.

The Alberta Party