“They Call it ‘Progress’”: The Consolidation, Financialization, and Deterritorialization of Saskatchewan Farmland

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Davidson, Melissa
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Across the province of Saskatchewan, where more than 40% of Canada’s agricultural land is located, patterns of farmland tenure are shifting and farmers claim that much is at stake. Based on both qualitative and quantitative research, this thesis analyzes two processes taking place in Saskatchewan: the ongoing consolidation of farmland and increasing financially-motivated farmland ownership. In addition to discussing the ways in which these shifts are transforming agriculture, the environment, and rural societies, this work provides insights into the locally-specific nature of these trends, the frameworks in which they are understood, and the grounds on which they are being accepted and facilitated by farmers. Situated within discussions of land and its meanings, I argue that as farmland is further consolidated and owned in greater proportions by absentee landowners and non-farmers, land is increasingly being oriented towards its productive and financial value, thereby displacing many of its social, cultural, and ecological meanings—what is commonly referred to as deterritorialization. Although treating land this way has allowed some Saskatchewan farmers to continue farming, farmland consolidation and increasing investor land ownership are pursued at the expense of the livelihoods of many farmers, the erosion of rural communities, and ecological degradation.
: farmland, land ownership, land consolidation, financialization, deterritorialization, absentee land ownership, investor land ownership