GFM Network News


Kochia has taken over this abandoned well site and stands nearly as tall as Kevin Serfas. The Turin farmer says his calls to the energy companies that own several dozen similar sites on his family’s farming operation go unanswered. And managing the weeds would require “a full-time guy,” he said.

Farmers lose — and weeds win — when energy companies walk away

When well sites are abandoned, the rent cheques 
often stop while the noxious weeds flourish

“Kochia six feet tall and completely covering the whole leases. We have many that look like this. When I phone, no one even answers the phones.” This tweet from Lethbridge-area farmer Kevin Serfas in August likely could have been written by any one of hundreds of Alberta producers with abandoned well sites on their farms. […] Read more

Some landowners wrongly billed for power

The Farmers’ Advocate Office (FAO) is warning landowners to watch their electricity bills if they have surface leases with insolvent companies. EPCOR has collected payment from landowners for providing three-phase electric power to a surface lease after an oil and gas company became insolvent. The company relied on a clause in its service agreement where […] Read more


Landowners’ rights and exploration

The Farmers’ Advocate Office has updated one of its key publications to help landowners understand their rights relating to geophysical exploration. Geophysical Exploration and Landowners’ Rights answers the five most common questions about geophysical exploration, including whether landowners can refuse permission for exploration on their land. (They can.) It also explains the notification process and […] Read more

A record number of oil companies aren’t paying their rent to landowners, nor the taxes they owe to municipalities.

Oil lease defaults hit new record

Landowner compensation claims more than doubled last year and have already doubled again this year

For the second year in a row, the number of claims against oil companies defaulting on rental agreements has smashed records. Under Section 36 of the Surface Rights Act, landowners can apply for compensation from the provincial government if an oil company hasn’t paid their surface rental lease. From 2003 to 2014, the board has […] Read more


In the last year, the Surface Rights Board has received more than 750 new applications from producers who haven’t been paid for their oil leases.

Oil companies bucking their commitments

Farmers are struggling to get oil companies to pay their leases and complete reclamation work on abandoned wells

There’s a wet spot originating from an oil well in Anthony Bruder’s pasture that his cows won’t drink from. “I’ve seen cows walk up to it, sniff it, and then walk a half-mile to the other end of the field to drink from the lake,” said Bruder, who farms near Twin Butte. “If the cows […] Read more

It’s been a steep learning curve, but Kelly and Jocelyn Hansen will plant their first wheat crop this spring.

Oilpatch slowdown steers couple back to farming

Kelly Hansen thought he had put farming behind him, but he 
and wife Jocelyn have been drawn back to the land

While many are suffering because of the downturn in the oilpatch, the Hansen family is using the slowdown as an opportunity to get into farming. Kelly Hansen grew up on a farm near Dapp, but left when he was 16 and was happy to put farming behind him. “But as things changed, I wanted to […] Read more


Oil bust could mean skyrocketing property taxes

Some Alberta municipalities are being hit hard as oil companies stop paying

With oil prices bottoming out around $30 a barrel, oil companies are scrambling to save money — sometimes at the expense of farmers. “Some companies are just deciding not to pay the annual rentals,” said Daryl Bennett, who represents the Action Surface Rights Association in southern Alberta. Last year, the Surface Rights Board had more […] Read more

Schoepp: What’s a more important sector: oil or agriculture?

Take a comprehensive look at the facts and the answer is obvious

As we drove through the blueberry fields and cranberry bogs in southern B.C., I thought of economic generators. What, I wondered, was a bigger sustainable economic generator to our nation: oil or agriculture? An environmental scan of an industry must include the long-term effects on people and the planet. The structures that we employ for […] Read more