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Beef producers put spotlight on Crown Land changes

Producers raise questions on access, lease terms as MBP makes its membership rounds and Bill 35 makes its way through the Legislature

Crown Lands have come up more than once as the Manitoba Beef Producers makes their annual membership rounds.

The topic of conversation is a proposed bill to change the Crown Lands Act and legislate changes that do away with the previous points system (under which Crown Lands have historically been allocated but that critics, including many livestock producers, argue are confusing and lead to appeals). Instead, the province has suggested a system that included both tendering and auctions.

The changes were first announced in December 2017, tied to efforts to bring Manitoba in line with the New West Partnership trade deal. The deal requires Manitoba allow farmers from other western provinces to access local agricultural Crown Lands.

Auctions were only added to the changes as of October, however, something Manitoba Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler says was in direct response from cattle producers.

Manitoba Beef Producers argues an open auction will allow better price discovery than a straight tender.

Members, however, still have questions on the un-clarified details of the changes, many of which Eichler says will be addressed in the regulatory stage after legislation passes.

The possibility of minimum bids, land access details and lease terms have all been brought up during the ongoing Manitoba Beef Producers district meetings.

In a Stonewall meeting, some expressed concern that dairy producers might outbid beef producers in the area, a suggestion that both Brian Lemon, president of Manitoba Beef Producers, and Eichler later downplayed.

[AUDIO (below): Ralph Eichler, Manitoba Agriculture Minister]

There are still questions on lease terms, Lemon added. The producer’s group is concerned that any shortened leases may provide less incentive to producers to build up the pasture.

[AUDIO (below): Brian Lemon, general manager, Manitoba Beef Producers]

Eichler, however, pointed to the need to keep Crown Lands available for young farmers to access.

Eichler says he hopes to see the changes pass Legislature this week, with regulations in place for a spring roll-out.

Be sure to check our next edition of the Manitoba Co-operator for more on this story.

About the author

Reporter

Alexis Stockford is a journalist and photographer with the Manitoba Co-operator. She previously reported with the Morden Times and was news editor of  campus newspaper, The Omega, at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC. She grew up on a mixed farm near Miami, Man.

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