Farmland prices hitting records in Ontario, Alberta

Farmland prices in Canada grew slowly or held steady in 2014, but some areas of the country are still seeing record increases, according to Remax.

Remax finds prices hold steady in most areas, despite poor crop prices

Farmland prices continue to soar in Alberta and Ontario, but the rapid increases are over for most of Canada, Remax says. (Geoff Robins/Canadian Press)

Farmland prices in Canada grew slowly or held steady in 2014, but some areas of the country are still seeing record increases, according to realtor Remax.

It’s 2014 farm report shows prices continue to rise rapidly in parts of Ontario and Alberta.

The price of farmland varies widely across Canada, from lows of $950 an acre in Saskatchewan to highs of $63,000 an acre in parts of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia.

Most buyers of farmland are existing farmers expanding their operations, Remax said, but in Simcoe County north of the Greater Toronto Area, developers are buying up farmland at $54,000 an acre, more than double what farmers usually pay.

Record prices in Ontario

Farmland  values are at record high in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, though the rate of price increases has slowed in the last 12 months according to Gurinder Sandhu, representing Remax for these regions.

“We’re reassured that sellers haven’t seen land values depreciate with lower commodity prices and the long, nasty winter – farmers are taking a long-term view and the outlook for agricultural land is still very positive,” he said in a press statement.

This year, commodity prices for corn and wheat are low and many farmers have been dealing with adverse weather conditions which could mediate pressure on land prices in future.

The Chatham-Kent area has seen a 40 per cent increase in the past year in the price of farmland to about $25,000 an acre, because of excellent soil quality.

Some farmers, particularly Mennonites, are moving out of southwestern Ontario into areas such as Quinte and Renfrew County where comparable land sold for between $8,000 per acre and $12,000 per acre.

Not much for sale in Alberta, B.C.

There also has been an increase in demand for land in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, a relatively small market where some farmers are looking to put in vineyards.

There is intense competition for farmland in Alberta and parts of British Columbia because of a short supply of good land.

Tile-drained land sold for as much as $10,000 per acre in southern Alberta, a 20 per cent increase over the previous year. That pressure on prices is expected to remain in the coming year, despite extreme weather conditions.

“Many transactions are private and can escalate into bidding wars, not unlike those in Canada’s hot residential markets,” Remax said in its report.

In B.C., dairy farms in the Chilliwack-Fraser Valley area sold for up to $63,000 per acre, while bare land in Peace River North—which is closer to Yellowknife than it is to Vancouver—sold for between $750 and $1,550 per acre. That is a five per cent increase from the previous year.

Because of the fall of the euro against the Canadian dollar, fewer Europeans are buying up Canadian land, Remax said.

Today’s low interest rates are also a lure for farmers hoping to increase their acreage, it added.