NFU recommendations to protect farmland, tackle farm debt

1. Enact laws to restrict farmland ownership to individuals who live in the province the land is in and the same for incorporated farming operations, including co-operatives.

2. Provincial governments should monitor farmland ownership and report changes annually and also consider legislating the maximum amount of farmland an individual or incorporated family farm can own.

3. Use differential taxation to encourage farmland ownership by farm families and local citizens and discourage investors and large corporations. Investments in farmland investment companies should not be eligible for the Registered Retirement Savings Plan.

4. Government incentives to encourage land stewardship and penalties for abusing farmland.

5. Government programs to assist the intergenerational transfer of family farms and reduce the debt young farmers face. Ideas include land banks, community-based financing, government guarantees to backstop self-financing arrangements between buyers and sellers, income assurance programs for beginning farmers and retirement programs to make farmers less reliant on land sales for retirement income.

6. Restrict the conversion of farmland to non-farm use, including prohibiting Class 1, 2 or 3 land for any use other than agriculture.

7. Ban farm input suppliers from tying credit on inputs to delivery opportunities.

8. Government must deal with the “debt bomb” planted under Canadian farmers by:

  • Preparing an honest analysis of farm debt and net income;
  • Designing support programs to help manage the debt;
  • Reducing the cap on farm support programs to encourage small and medium farmers;
  • Responding to the market power imbalance so farmers can earn a living from the marketplace;
  • Directing Farm Credit Canada to provide more support to small and medium-size farms and ban it from lending to farmland investment companies or large export-oriented food processors.

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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