Farmer unable to sell grain frustrated over Sask. land lease
Farmer thought the province would be more flexible
A Saskatchewan farmer is taking issue with the province after getting a letter saying that the government was going to
cancel the lease on land he has farmed for about 40 years.
Darcy Livingston says he owed $5,700 in December. But like many Prairie farmers, his grain is sitting in bins because of railway transportation delays.
I was kind of short of cash.- Farmer Darcy Livingston
"We just haven't been able to sell any grain since harvest, so I was kind of short of cash," said the 64-year-old who farms in Sintaluta, about 86 kilometres east of Regina.
Livingston is upset because earlier this month, Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart wrote to banks urging them to be flexible with farmers facing a cash crunch.
Stewart said at the time that he thought the banks would recognize there's a lot of value in the grain in those bins.
"I was kind of surprised because they're talking about telling the lenders to work with the farmers to help ride this thing through and then the government itself sends a letter to cancel your lease on the land," said Livingston. "It's not like they're lending us money. All they're doing is giving us a little more time until we can get some grain out."
Livingston says he offered to make a down payment of $2,000, but was told no. He ended up having to borrow the money from his brother to keep the land.
Stewart says about 46 of 8,600 producers haven't paid. But he insists the government is being flexible.
"These leases were due Dec. 1 and the grain movement slowdown didn't start until after that, so most producers have made arrangements to pay and I think anybody that's really interested in farming the land probably can find a way to get it paid in the next couple of weeks," Stewart told reporters at the legislature. "And we're willing to continue to work with them."
The government said in an email to media late Monday that no Crown leases have been cancelled. The email said the Lands Branch in the Ministry of Agriculture will now give producers until the end of July to pay their lease fees.