10/20/2015 16:32 EDT | Updated 10/20/2016 01:12 EDT

Saskatchewan changes law to clarify who can own farmland in the province

REGINA — Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart has introduced amendments to Saskatchewan's farm security legislation that clarify who can own farmland in the province.

Pension plans, administrators of pension fund assets and trusts won't be eligible.

All financing for a farmland purchase will have to be through a financial institution registered to do business in Canada or by a Canadian resident.

The legislation still has to be passed, but the new rules are expected to come into effect by next year.

Almost nine out of every 10 people who responded to a government survey said they didn't want the province's farmland to end up in foreign hands.

Eighty-seven per cent of the more than 3,200 respondents said they didn't support foreign ownership and 75 per cent said they were opposed to allowing investors such as Canadian pension funds to purchase farmland.

"This summer, we asked the people of Saskatchewan to share their views to help us inform our decision on farmland ownership,” Stewart said Tuesday.

"They did, and as a result we are making changes that will keep farmland accessible to Saskatchewan’s farmers and ranchers.

The question of who can own farmland in Saskatchewan prompted a spirited debate that was sparked after the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board started buying up farms in 2013. The rules currently don't allow institutional investors to own Saskatchewan farmland and limit foreign ownership to four hectares, but the investment board's structure made it eligible.

The Canadian Press