Manitoba is an agricultural hub in Canada, with over 14,700 farms and 17.6 million acres in operation according to the 2016 Census of Agriculture. As such, farming is an essential way of life for many Manitobans. Farmers in Manitoba have special legislative protection intended to prevent creditors from seizing and selling farmland without giving the farmer a reasonable opportunity to repay their debt. A Family Farm Protection Act was first created in 1986 to help make small farms more economically viable and promote healthy local rural economies. This act helps level the playing field and eliminates special treatment of large-scale farm operations. If a creditor fails to follow the proper procedures, any action taken by the creditor to enforce its security will be considered void. A Family Farm Protection Act outlines the steps creditors must take in order to enforce security against farmers.
The judge who hears the application of the creditor will consider a number of factors, including whether the value of the land exceeds the amount owing and whether the farmer has put forward a reasonable proposal to repay the loan. The judge may either grant the creditor leave to proceed or adjourn the application to allow the farmer more time to pay.
The objects of the Act are:
a) to afford protection to farmers against unwarranted loss of their farming operations during periods of difficult economic circumstances;
b) to preserve the agricultural land base of Manitoba and to ensure that farmland is farmed and managed during periods of difficult economic circumstances;
c) to preserve management skills of farmers during periods of difficult economic circumstances;
d) to preserve the human resources of the agricultural community of Manitoba; and
e) to preserve the existing lifestyle of farm communities in Manitoba and the tradition of locally owned and managed family farms.
Agriculture is a key economic driver for Manitoba and as such Manitoba ensures its farmers are protected.
The Family Farm Protection Act of Manitoba is available for download from the FAOLEX, a database of national legislation, policies and bilateral agreements on food, agriculture and natural resources management. You can find it here.