Non-reversionary rule hinders land leasing

Some federal land must be offered to the ag department and government agencies before it is offered to patrons

SASKATOON — The Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association says the federal government should exempt the non-reversionary land in some of its pastures from the Treasury Board disposal process.


Non-reversionary land is land that the federal government owns but can’t transfer to the province without first offering it to the federal agriculture department and other government agencies. Patrons are supposed to take control of the first five pastures that Ottawa is disposing of this spring.


A resolution presented at the SSGA semi-annual meeting in January said the non-reversionary land is critical to the viability of the pastures.


The province had offered to swap land with Ottawa to avoid the disposal process, but a deal fell through.


Mark Elford, who ranches near Wood Mountain and sat on a pasture transition committee set up by the provincial agriculture ministry, said the trade was a sensible idea.


Patrons want to lease the pastures in their entirety.


“It doesn’t seem like the government of Canada is able to get out of this policy,” he said.


It would be simpler and easier if it could exempt the pasture lands, he added.


Non-reversionary land is scattered throughout several of the pastures, including McCraney, which is to be turned over to patrons this spring and the only one of the first five that patrons haven’t yet officially leased. The pasture’s home quarter and yard site are on non-reversionary land, and the patrons are hesitant to proceed with a lease without assurance they will have access to it.


Other resolutions passed at the meeting included calls to lobby the provincial government to recognize that conservation easements de-crease the sale value of land, that a surface lease compensation review process for crown lease land be established and that Health Canada approve irradiation for trim and ground beef. 


SSGA members also want funding increased for the predation program administered by Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corp. so that more control officers are available quicker to deal with coyotes and other predators.