Land grabbing and land concentration: Mapping changing patterns of farmland ownership in three rural municipalities in Saskatchewan, Canada
Since the 2007-2008 global food crisis there is growing interest in changing patterns of farmland ownership. Utilizing a dataset of the names of all farmland titleholders along with GIS data mapping software, this article demonstrates changes in patterns of land ownership in three rural municipalities (RMs) in Saskatchewan, Canada. A diverse mix of new actors have entered the farmland market in the past decade or two, with some now owning more than 100,000 acres each in the province. Our research reveals a list of the investment companies, pension plans, and large farmer/investor hybrids buying land and also maps investment activity and large land transactions in the three RMs. While 7.8% to 13.1% of the farmland is now owned by “land grabbers”, our study also found a significant rise in land concentration in the hands of farmers when compared to 20 years ago. For example, in one RM the four largest landowners—a mix of farmers and investment companies and farmer/investor hybrids—now own 28% of the land. We then discuss some initial findings concerning the impact changing patterns of land ownership is having on the cohesion and vitality of communities and conclude with a series of questions for further research.