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Alberta is modernizing the rent and fees ranchers and cattle owners pay government for the use of public lands. Alberta Premier Jason Kenny and Environment Minister Jason Nixon chat in the legislature in Edmonton.JASON FRANSON/The Canadian Press

Alberta is modernizing the rent and fees ranchers and cattle owners pay the province for use of public lands.

The government says the current grazing fee framework has been frozen since 1994 and is based on outdated data.

It has introduced legislation which it says would protect the beef industry against tariffs because it eliminates the perception of a subsidy for Alberta’s ranchers.

There will also be a flat-rate fee for the transfer of a lease.

Changes in rental rates are to be phased in over five years.

Environment Minister Jason Nixon says it’s important to modernize the legislation so the ranching industry can continue to grow and thrive for generations.

“Ranchers play an important role in Alberta. They support our economy and are responsible for protecting some of the province’s important grasslands and wetlands,” he said in a release.

In 2015, Alberta’s auditor general criticized the government’s outdated grazing leases, which allowed ranchers to collect compensation payments from industry for damage to land they don’t own.

Examining about 10 per cent of the province’s leases showed leaseholders received about $2.7-million more in compensation from energy companies than they had paid to lease the land.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 15, 2019.

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