Canada: New Limits Imposed On Foreign Investors Seeking To Acquire Farmland In Quebec

Last Updated: July 9 2014
Article by Chantal Sylvestre and Marjolaine Arès

An Act respecting the acquisition of farmland by non-residents

Near the end of the 1970s, the Quebec National Assembly recognized the need for a law to regulate the specific problem of foreign ownership of farm land, which was becoming more and more common1.

As a result, An Act respecting the acquisition of farmland by non-residents2  (the "Act") was adopted on December 21, 1979. The purpose of the Act is to control the acquisition of any type of farmland by a person who is not resident in Quebec. The Commission de protection du territoire agricole (the "Commission") is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Act. A person who is not resident in Quebec may not, directly or indirectly, make an acquisition of farmland without the authorization of the Commission3.

The Act applies to farmland covering a minimum area of four hectares, south of the 50th parallel north4. Geographically, this delimitation draws a line passing north of Chibougamau, but south of Port-Cartier5

One of the purposes of the Act is to ensure that farmland remains in the hands of residents as much as possible, to encourage active farming, and to prevent a market imbalance caused by foreign price scales, which could potentially impact Quebec residents' financial capacity to acquire farmland.

The Act stipulates the conditions for a legal person6 or a natural person7 to be considered "resident in Quebec." The Act also provides for an application procedure through which the Commission exercises control over the acquisition of farmland by non-residents8.

Bill 46

Concerned parties in the farming community deemed it necessary to amend the Act to ensure that the legislation better reflects today's economic reality and to counter farmland grabs by foreign investors, which had increased in recent years, and not only in Quebec, notably due to the 2007-2008 global food crisis9.

On October 30, 2013, the date of royal assent and entry into force of Bill 4610, it became more difficult for a non-resident to acquire agriculturally zoned land suitable for the cultivation of the soil and the raising of livestock. The additional restrictive measures added to the Act by Bill 46 are: (i) strengthening of the "resident in Quebec" status, (ii) imposition of an annual quota on the total area of farmland the Commission may allow to be acquired by persons who do not intend to settle in Quebec, and (iii) new evaluation criteria enabling the Commission to exercise greater control.

Strengthening of the "resident in Quebec" status as provided under the Act

Before Bill 46 came into force, a natural person was deemed to be resident in Quebec if the person had lived in the province for not less than 366 days (12 months and one day) in the 24 months immediately preceding the date of acquisition of farmland11, or following the date of acquisition in the case of a non-resident who had the intention of settling in Quebec12.

Since October 30, 2013, a natural person is deemed to be resident in Quebec if the person is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident within the meaning of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act13  and has lived in Quebec for not less than 1,095 days (36 months) in the 48 months immediately preceding the date of acquisition of farm land14, or following the date of acquisition in the case of a non-resident who has the intention of settling in Quebec15.

Imposition of an annual Quota

Bill 46 added a completely new restrictive condition to the Act: 

"Except for areas of land in respect of which an authorization is granted to natural persons who intend to settle in Québec, no more than 1,000 ha of farmland suitable for the cultivation of the soil or the raising of livestock may be added in a year to the total of such areas that any other persons have already been authorized to acquire.16"

Once this cumulative annual area of 1,000 hectares17 has been reached, the Commission can no longer authorize acquisitions by non-resident persons who do not intend to settle in Quebec. 

This new measure of control imposed on the Commission is designed to somewhat reduce the risk of massive grabs of good farm land by non-residents.

New Evaluation Criteria

Regarding the third restrictive measure brought by Bill 46, when assessing an application by a non-resident for the acquisition of farmland suitable for the cultivation of the soil or the raising of livestock based on the biophysical conditions of the soil and the environment, the Commission must henceforth take the following factors into consideration:

  • The intended use, in particular the applicant's intention to cultivate the soil or raise livestock on the farmland that is the subject of the application;
  • The impact of the acquisition on the price of farmland in the region;
  • The effects of the acquisition or projected use on the economic development of the region;
  • The increase in value of agricultural products and the development of underutilized farmland; and
  • The impact on land occupancy.

This decision-making framework imposed on the Commission is designed to ensure that the farmland acquired will in fact be used for agricultural activities, and to prevent farmland from being acquired for purely speculative purposes. For applications pending on October 30, 2013, the Commission will, however, apply the evaluation criteria provided in paragraph 3 of former Section 15 of the Act.


Any interested person, including the Attorney General, may apply to the Superior Court to declare the nullity of an acquisition made in contravention of the Act (i.e., an acquisition made by a non-resident who did not obtain the Commission's prior authorization), or an acquisition made following a conditional authorization given by the Commission, for which the conditions were not subsequently met (i.e., a non-resident who had intended to settle in Quebec as stipulated under section 15.2 of the Act). The Commission may also, by order, enjoin a person having acquired farmland in contravention of the Act to divest himself of that farmland within 6 months of the service of that order, and ultimately, may apply to a judge of the Superior Court to obtain authorization for the judicial sale of the farmland.


1 Mario MASSE, "La Loi sur l'acquisition de terres agricoles par des non-résidents : conditions générales d'application," (2007) 1C.P. du N. 1, 7.

2 An Act respecting the acquisition of farm land by non-residents, C.Q.L.R. c. A-4.1 (hereinafter "A.R.A.F.L.N.R.")

3 A.R.A.F.L.N.R., s. 8.

4 A.R.A.F.L.N.R., s. 5. 

5 This example is from Serge Cardinal, "Loi sur la protection du territoire agricole du Québec et Loi sur l'acquisition des terres agricoles par des non-résidents – Présentation des textes de lois et jurisprudence," Commission sur la protection du territoire agricole du Québec, 1989, internal document, p.160.

6 A.R.A.F.L.N.R., s. 2.

7 A.R.A.F.L.N.R., s. 4.

8 A.R.A.F.L.N.R., s. 12 to 20.

9 The 2007-2008 global food crisis was triggered by a steep increase in basic food prices, throwing some of the world's poorest countries into a state of crisis. Many affected areas experienced riots and political instability.

10 An Act to amend the Act respecting the acquisition of farm land by non-residents, S.Q. 2013, c. 24.

11 A.R.A.F.L.N.R., s. 2 and 3 as published on October 29, 2013. 

12 A.R.A.F.L.N.R., s. 16 as published on October 29, 2013.
13 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c. 27

14 A.R.A.F.L.N.R., s. 2 and 3 as modified by An Act to amend the Act respecting the acquisition of farm land by non-residents, S.Q. 2013 c. 24.

15 A.R.A.F.L.N.R., s. 15.2, section added by An Act to amend the Act respecting the acquisition of farm land by non-residents, S.Q. 2013 c. 24.

16 A.R.A.F.L.N.R., s.15.3 para.1, section added by An Act to amend the Act respecting the acquisition of farm land by non-residents, S.Q. 2013 c. 24.

17 10,000,000 sq. m. or 107,639,104.2 sq. ft.

18 A.R.A.F.L.N.R., s. 27, 28.

About Dentons

Dentons is a global firm driven to provide you with the competitive edge in an increasingly complex and interconnected marketplace. We were formed by the March 2013 combination of international law firm Salans LLP, Canadian law firm Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP (FMC) and international law firm SNR Denton.

Dentons is built on the solid foundations of three highly regarded law firms. Each built its outstanding reputation and valued clientele by responding to the local, regional and national needs of a broad spectrum of clients of all sizes – individuals; entrepreneurs; small businesses and start-ups; local, regional and national governments and government agencies; and mid-sized and larger private and public corporations, including international and global entities.

Now clients benefit from more than 2,500 lawyers and professionals in 79 locations in 52 countries across Africa, Asia Pacific, Canada, Central Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Russia and the CIS, the UK and the US who are committed to challenging the status quo to offer creative, actionable business and legal solutions.

Learn more at

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances. Specific Questions relating to this article should be addressed directly to the author.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.