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Farmers Versus Big Capital

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Touch the Soil News #215

While the world stumbles along – embracing unfettered entrance of finance into everything – the Province of Saskatchewan is getting set to block big-capital ownership of farmland. This block is not only intended for foreign ownership, but the largest financial conglomerate in Canada – The Canadian Pension Fund (CPPIB).

Saskatchewan women winnowing grain - 1899. The spirit of the land and farming continues to have a presence amidst powerful capital.

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Saskatchewan farmers and rural communities are threatened by escalating farmland values. The value of farmland is in the process of being disconnected from what the farmland can pay. So the bidding for farmland is spilling over to large financial gorillas that are not farmers, but investors foreign and domestic.

The Saskatchewan Minister of Agriculture – Lyle Stewart – has introduced amendments to Saskatchewan’s legislature that makes pension plans ineligible from owning farmland. In addition, all financing of farmland must be done with a Canadian financial institution or Canadian Resident – to avoid foreign ownership should the farmer default.

What makes the Saskatchewan move to prevent large pools of capital from owning farmland so relevant to the world? It may well be one of a growing number of situations where people feel they should stand up to the incorporated and concentrated power of Capital.

Saskatchewan farmers see the Canadian Pension Fund (CPPIB) as the biggest threat to bidding up farmland prices to a point that excludes farmers. The CPPIB) is a $268 billion dollar gorilla that represents the pension contributions of 18 million people – half of Canada’s population. With that kind of concentrated purchasing power looming, it is no surprise that 75 percent of 3,200 respondents to a government survey – favored locking the CPPIB out of purchasing Saskatchewan farmland. How would a farmer feel as he watches half of his nation’s population (through their retirement funds) lining up to own and control farmland in his backyard?

At present, there is a temporary ban on pension funds buying Saskatchewan farmland. Now, the CPPIB has gone public, crying foul over Saskatchewan’s pending legislation to make that ban permanent.

Saskatchewan has an organized Farm Land Security Board – that represents the farmers – that will also get tougher powers to enforce the province’s farmland rules.

Following is a short video report on Canadian Farmland values:

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