A recent influx of immigrant buyers is changing the Saskatchewan farming landscape. Investors from South Korea, China and India are snatching up prairie farmland by the hectare, taking full advantage of the province’s agricultural boom in recent years.
Most Canadians do not usually think of immigrants when they think of farming – especially when farming involves such detailed knowledge about the natural ecosystems in place. However, experts say that most of these investors are hiring out local farmers to take care of their crop and then reaping the economic benefits as their product is sold overseas – often in China.
The opportunity is appealing to many immigrant entrepreneurs who are having trouble establishing themselves in other sectors upon their arrival in Canada. Furthermore, the economic boom in Saskatchewan means that those buying land now are almost sure to see the value increase over the next few years. In the past year alone, land prices have risen approximately 20 percent.
“For farmland, especially Saskatchewan farmland, [immigrants] think it is much, much undervalued,” said Justin Yin, a Saskatoon real estate agent, himself a recently landed Chinese immigrant. “So they think that’s the best place to put their money.”
Yet the welcome has not always been warm. Despite the vast amounts of farmers nearing retirement age who are no doubt happy to see so many potential buyers, there are still some concerns over the massive influx of farm owners who are not fully familiar with the system and may end up overpaying for land.
Currently the province of Saskatchewan has some of the most stringent regulations in the country regarding who can and cannot own land. Buyers are optimistic that as older generations of farmers retire, the government will ease up its restrictions, which could drive land values even higher than they already are.
Source: Globe and Mail