By: Wab Kinew, Leader of the Manitoba NDP
Last fall beef producers and Crown Land leaseholders were stunned when the Pallister Government unveiled without any warning massive changes to the Crown Land lease program. Producers stood up and spoke out loudly in opposition to these harmful changes.
But the Government has failed to listen. On December 3rd with no announcement or press release, the Pallister government quietly forced through additional regulatory changes to Crown Lands. With the stroke of a pen, this government has made life harder and more expensive for farmers and ranchers, while making it easier for big corporations to outbid the next generation of producers. But it’s not just a pocketbook issue, it’s about the future of Manitoba’s rural communities.
The Conservative’s changes to Crown Land leases undermine producers’ ability to hold onto their land by putting a 15-year limit on leases and putting new leases up for auction once the term is up. They’ve raised rents by up to 300 or 400% and to make things worse, as a result of their changes, many producers will have to pay two rent payments in one year. This in addition to the Conservative’s plans to eliminate unit transfers makes it next to impossible for producers to coordinate the transfer of their leases when they sell their private land.
These changes make it harder for families to pass on their businesses to the next generation, and they make it much harder for young producers starting up. Instead of helping local producers, the government has made it easier for out-of-province corporate landlords to take over Crown land and those kinds of renters don’t even have to be here doing the work on the land. Putting corporate interests ahead of local producers is a grave mistake – one that will have long-term impacts on the health and well-being of rural communities for generations to come.
Over the last year, I heard from hundreds of ranchers and producers who said the proposed changes to Crown land leases by the Conservative government would hurt their businesses and their families. Producers came together to advocate, holding town halls, sending letters and emails, and making hundreds of phone calls. My team and I have pushed the Conservatives in the Legislature and the media to do the right thing and abandon these changes. But the Conservative government refused to listen to producers and refused to consult with First Nations communities.
Producers need a government that provides stability and security and invests in rural communities. Sustainable supports for rural communities is the key to a healthy Manitoba – and that needs a Crown Land leasing program that is fair to all Manitobans. I will continue to fight for a better future for Manitoba’s producers and to call for the Government to reverse these harmful plans.
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Quote of the day: “We Generate Fears While We Sit. We Overcome Them By Action.” – Dr. Henry Link