WHEREAS the Minister of Sustainable Resource Development initiated the Farm Holdings Consolidation Program (hereinafter referred to as the FHCP), a program to sell public lands, in July 2004;AND WHEREAS the FHCP proposes to offer sale of lease-held lands in the White Zone to the leaseholder, limiting initial purchase opportunities to only 9,000 leaseholders, not the general public;AND WHEREAS there does not appear to have been much consultation with Albertans about this new program; nor does there appear to have been significant legislative discussion on the FHCP;AND WHEREAS the FHCP does not consider the future of agricultural lands to be of importance, as there is no requirement that former Crown leased lands stay within the consolidated farm after the purchase of those lands, nor is there any requirement that the lands be used for agricultural purposes once sold;AND WHEREAS the FHCP is likely to have a huge adverse impact on land prices (pushing prices higher throughout the province), and thus on the viability of Alberta’s already beleaguered ranching industry;AND WHEREAS the FHCP appears to be similar to proposals made by the Alberta Government, back in the 1980s, to sell off Crown land (which also met considerable public opposition), and those proposals were subsequently shelved;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the provincial government to cancel the Farm Holding Consolidation Program until a thorough public analysis and consultation process has been completed.
The province announced the implementation of the Farm Holdings Consolidation Program back in July of this year. The FHCP allows holders of long-term grazing leases and farm development leases in the White Zone areas of Alberta an opportunity to purchase up to one section of their leased land. This Alberta Government initiative likely evolved from a motion in the Legislature last year, calling for the province sell off more of its Crown Land. The new program states that land needed for conservation or other government programs will be excluded, but that would still mean that thousands of quarter sections in Alberta may be up for sale, and there is insufficient policy guidance within the FHCP to ensure that land important to Albertans is not sold.The FHCP has very significant implications for Albertans and for the agricultural industry, as noted in the above preamble and motion. This is a difficult time for Alberta’s ranchers and few of them are likely in a financial position to purchase extra land. Instead, they may want to benefit by flipping purchased lands, which does not ensure the long-term viability and retention of agricultural lands in our province.
The AAMDC does not have any resolutions currently in effect with respect to this issue.
Prior to the passage of this resolution, the AAMDC met with the Minister on the Farm Holding Consolidation Program in September of 2004. Since then, the provincial government has advised that they are reviewing the program and will take the positions of the AAMDC and other stakeholders into consideration.