05/09/2012 08:08 EDT | Updated 07/09/2012 05:12 EDT

Sell-off of federal community pastures in Saskatchewan comes up in legislature

REGINA - The NDP is again raising concerns about the sell-off of 60 federal community pastures in Saskatchewan.

Opposition critic Cathy Sproule said Wednesday in the legislature that some farmers may not be able to afford to buy the land.

She says they may lose their business.

Agriculture Minister Bob Bjornerud (BEN-ROD) says he is putting together a five-member farm panel to determine the best course of action.

He says farmers who are using the land now should have the first opportunity to buy the land.

Ottawa is walking away from 60 federal pastures in Saskatchewan to save money and most of the 720,000 hectares will revert to the control of the province.

But the province has said it doesn't want to own the land.

Five of the federal pastures will be handed over to the province next year with the remaining pastures turned over during a five-year period.

"We've talked to the federal minister to try to find ways for financing of these pastures with patrons who would like to either form an association or something of that sort to purchase the pastures that they're utilizing now," Bjornerud said.