Jason Bryk 

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THE BROWN PAPERS

Basic Land Ownership Restriction Rules in the Farm Lands Ownership Act (Manitoba)

May 2019


The basic landholding/restriction/prohibition/permission rules in The Farm Lands Ownership Act (Manitoba) (the "Act") are as follows:

  1. The following "persons" (defined very broadly) can acquire farm land (see Section 4 of the Act):

(a)          a person acquiring "in conformity with the provisions of Section 2 or Section 3 of the Act"; and

(b)          a person acquiring which would result in that person having, directly or indirectly, interests in farm land that do not exceed 40 acres in aggregate.


Pursuant to Sections 2 and 3 of the Act, the following persons may acquire farm land:


(i)            an eligible individual (essentially, a Canadian citizen or a landed immigrant) (Section 2(a));


(ii)           a family farm corporation (essentially, a corporation owned and controlled by farmers and persons related to farmers) (Section 2(b));


(iii)          a municipality, a local government district and an agency of the government (Sections 2(c), 2(d) and 2(e));


(iv)          a qualified Canadian organization, "subject to any limitations provided for in the regulations (as at May 17, 2019, I have not been able to discover any regulations dealing with this matter).  A "qualified Canadian organization" (essentially, any business entity including LPs and trustees) where eligible individuals own the organization, excluding "corporations which have any shares listed on a stock exchange";


(v)           subject to Section 3(16), a "qualified immigrant";


(vi)          persons who are specifically permitted to acquire ownership interests in farm land by the Farm Industry Board (Section 3(3));


(vii)         a person who acquires an interest in farm land which secures a bona fide debt obligation - typically, a mortgage (Section 3(4));


(viii)        a "retired farmer" - Section 3(8) - essentially, this is a natural person wherever resident "who has been a farmer for a period of at least 10 years and who has retired from farming in Canada".


There are several other more exotic and less encountered specific permissions to hold farm land to a greater or lesser degree, found primarily in Section 3 of the Act.

  1. "Farm land" is defined to mean "real property which is situated outside a city, town, village (including an unincorporated village) or hamlet and that is used or is reasonably capable of being used for farming, excluding mines and minerals" (other than sand and gravel) and a couple of other exceptions.
  2. "Farmer" means an eligible individual "who receives a significant portion of his income either directly or indirectly from his occupation of farming and who spends a significant portion of his time actively engaged in farming".
  3. "Farming" includes "tillage of the soil, livestock production, raising poultry, dairying, fur farming, tree farming, horticulture, bee keeping, fish farming or any other activity undertaken to produce agriculture products, but does not include the purchase and resale of agricultural products, or the commercial processing of agricultural products".
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