The following represent the most frequently asked questions about farmland easement agreements.

Will a farmland easement agreement really protect my property permanently?

Yes. Farmland easement agreements are registered on the property title and are supported by the Conservation Land Act. Therefore, the agreement applies to all future owners – it runs with the land in perpetuity.

Could my decision to protect my farm from development be overruled by my family?

A farmland easement agreement is the strongest tool an individual property owner has to protect farmland and farming on their land in perpetuity. Agreements can be amended, but not easily. The landowner and the Ontario Farmland Trust can work together to make corrections or changes to an agreement, but they need to be approved by the Minister of Natural Resources (and Environment Canada if it is an Eco-Gift). Any change must show that it is consistent with the original intent of the agreement and offers enhancements to the protection of the land.

Could my decision to protect my farm from development be expropriated by government?

It is possible for protected lands to be expropriated by government. The land trust is a partner with the landowner to work with government to avoid this scenario. History shows in the vast majority of cases that government will avoid expropriating these lands wherever possible.

What if I have a mortgage on my property?

A mortgage adds another level of detail to the easement agreement process. You will need to approach your bank to see if they will allow a farmland easement agreement on the property.

What are the potential limitations that will be imposed by an easement agreement?

Farmland easement agreements are restrictive covenants. They will restrict any changes to land use that could impact the agricultural or natural features of the property.

Restrictions may include:

  • Future development
  • Prevention of subdivision of the property
  • Prevention of clear-cutting forests and draining wetlands in natural areas identified in the agreement

Restrictions are negotiated in the development of the easement agreement.

My land is held in a farm corporation – can corporations enter into a farmland easement agreement?

Yes, but the tax implications are different for incorporated farms. Consult your accountant or farm advisor for support.

Can I still live on my farm after I enter into a farmland easement agreement?

Yes. Agreements are most commonly placed on the title of the land, while the land owner continues to own, live, and work on the farm.

Can I sell my land after I put an agreement on my farm?

Yes. The agreement is placed on the title of the property, so stays with the property, even if the ownership of the land changes hands. The subsequent owner’s use of the land will be restricted by the terms set out in the agreement.

Can I still roll the land over to my child once an agreement is on it?

Yes. Your generational rules for transfer will still apply. You can transfer at death or in your lifetime.

Could an agreement help make my land more affordable for my children or a beginning farmer?

Yes. Farm owners may use an agreement to receive part of their property value as a charitable tax receipt, then reduce the selling price by this amount for family members or another farmer. This can make land ownership more affordable for the next farm successor.

Will a farmland easement agreement protect the type of agricultural operation on my property (for example: pasture, cash crop, organic, ecological)?

No. A farmland easement agreement protects the land – the agricultural soils – from development and non-agricultural uses. Speak with your farm advisor about your options for ensuring farming practices are included in your farm business or succession plan.

Is a farmland easement agreement the same as a utility easement?

No. A utility easement is a legal right of access to a portion of property for the purpose of installing and maintaining its distribution system.

A farmland easement agreement is an agreement made on the title of the property to maintain the agricultural and conservation features of that property in perpetuity – it ‘runs with the land’ forever.

Who will have access to my land once an agreement is registered?

There is no public access as a result of an easement agreement. The organization that the easement value has been donated to will have access to the land for monitoring purposes. Mutual meeting times will be established to ensure the property is being maintained according to the agreement.

How does a farmland easement agreement affect the value of my property?

The value of your property typically decreases at the time of appraisal, resulting in a tax benefit. However, this does not impact market value. Market value is always what a buyer is willing to pay. Contact your real estate agent for further advice.

Will it cost me money to enter into a farmland easement agreement?

There are direct and indirect costs associated with executing a farmland easement agreement. Typically, the Ontario Farmland Trust will cover all of the direct costs associated with registering a farmland easement agreement. Any indirect costs, such as consulting financial and legal advisors will be the cost of the landowner. This can vary depending on each landowner’s situation.

Can I leave an easement agreement in my will?

Farmland easement agreements are detailed agreements that take time and need to be completed together with OFT to ensure your wishes are achieved. Therefore, easement agreements should not be left in your will. However, a monetary gift can be left to OFT, along with your wishes for an easement agreement to be completed upon your death to protect your farm. It is important to discuss these wishes with OFT before adding these details to your will to ensure the easement will be achievable for your farm, and that the gift will cover all costs associated with registering the easement. Another option is to leave a donation of your farmland in your will to OFT. See our Legacy Giving guide for more details or take a look at our “Donations of Farmland” page.

Can I leave my property to whomever I want in my will if I put an easement agreement on it?

Yes. You can leave the ownership of your property to your children, a beneficiary of your choice, or transfer ownership to the Ontario Farmland Trust.