The question of who should get the right to own farmland in Saskatchewan has been a controversial one in recent years. The sale of $128 million in farmland holdings to the Canada Pension Plan in 2014 caused enough concern to move the government to prohibit pension plans and large trusts from acquiring farmland in Saskatchewan. In Who’s Buying the Farm: Farmland Investment Patterns in Saskatchewan, 2003-14, authors Andre Magnan and Annette Demarsais set out to provide a more complete picture of farmland investment patterns in Saskatchewan, identifying major private and out-of-province investors and the extent of their holdings in Saskatchewan. The authors find that investor ownership of farmland in Saskatchewan has grown dramatically since ownership restrictions were relaxed in 2003 and are having a measureable impact on the farmland market. In some regions of the province where private investment is particularly robust, the presence of investors may be significantly affecting the availability and price of land, which may be making it more difficult for existing farmers to expand their operations.
André Magnan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Studies at the University of Regina. His research interests are the history and politics of grain marketing and the financialization of agriculture and food. His book, When Wheat Was King: The Rise and Fall of the Canada-UK Grain Trade, was published by UBC Press in 2016.
Annette Aurélie Desmarais is Canada Research Chair in Human Rights, Social Justice and Food Sovereignty at the University of Manitoba. She is the author of La Vía Campesina: Globalization and the Power of Peasants (2007) and co-editor of Food Sovereignty: Reconnecting Food, Nature and Community (2010) and Food Sovereignty in Canada: Creating Just and Sustainable Food Systems (2011). Prior to obtaining her doctorate in Geography, Annette was a small-scale farmer in Saskatchewan.