Farmland in Chilliwack sells for approximately $80,000 an acre. For the entire south coast region the average in 2017 was $89,314, up 13.9 per cent, something UFV ag prof Tom Baumann says is ‘ruinous’ for agriculture. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Sky-high farmland prices ‘ruinous’ for B.C. agriculture: UFV prof

Fraser Valley-based Tom Baumann says $80K-per-acre in area threatens food security

The staggeringly high price of farmland in the Fraser Valley is putting pressure on farmers and is “ruinous” to agriculture.

That’s according to Chilliwack farmer and University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) associate professor Tom Baumann.

“Agriculture land is vanishing in the Fraser Valley at an alarming rate,” Baumann said, responding to questions about the annual report on farmland values published by Farm Credit Canada (FCC) this week.

“Roads, buildings, industrial areas, all good for the economy, are swallowing large tracts, and so do pipelines ([because of] restrictions on use on top and beside), with berries, greenhouses, including cannabis, animal husbandry taking more and more land.”

The FCC report noted that overall in British Columbia farmland values went up 2.7 per cent in 2017 compared to 8.4 per cent in Canada.

• READ MORE: B.C. farmland values grew at slower rate in 2017: report

But on the south coast, the area including the Fraser Valley encapsulating all of the Lower Mainland up to Whistler, the average price per acre in 2017 was $89,314, up 13.9 per cent over 2016.

That’s more than five times more expensive than the average price in the costliest region in any province outside of B.C.

In Chilliwack, Baumann says where you once could get a deal for $50,000 an acre now it’s a minimum of $80,000. In Abbotsford prices are even higher, often over $100,000.

As for even closer to Metro Vancouver?

“Langley, Delta, Richmond, we don’t even talk about it anymore.”

The FCC report noted there were a fairly low number of farmland sales due, of course, to very few coming to market. And what there is for sale gets snapped up by already large operators looking to expand or investors looking to buy and sit on land.

All this means that young farmers have little chance to get into the business, without taking over a family operation.

“There is no ‘open’ farmland,” Baumann says, “so you can’t go to the MLS listings and just pick yourself a nice tract of land and expand your business. Every time someone expands, someone else gets squeezed out. Small holdings such a hobby farms take another small portion that is not available for producers. All this conspires for young people and new farmers of all ages being priced out of the market.”

Fraser Valley agriculture land is in short supply and, as prices go up, so too do lease prices in the tight market.

To compare across Canada, the highest priced land in Ontario is in the south-west at $16,819 per acre. Quebec’s Montérégie is $15,098. Southern Alberta is at $5,461 per acre close to the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia at $5,419. Manitoba’s Central Plains-Pembina Valley is $4,770, but the cheapest goes to West Central Saskatchewan at $1,728 per acre, the costliest in that province.

Only one region in Canada is higher than B.C.’s south coast and that’s the Okanagan at $91,978 per acre, up 5.7 per cent.

All this is good news for those sitting on land or selling land, but Baumann says sometimes “progress” is not progress.

“From agriculture perspective it is ruinous. For food security, we are all losing,” he said.

• RELATED: Final week for ALR input – Public consultation process closes April 30

• RELATED: Chilliwack city councillor named to provincial ALR ‘revitalization’ committee


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Farmland in Chilliwack sells for approximately $80,000 an acre. For the entire south coast region the average in 2017 was $89,314, up 13.9 per cent, something UFV ag prof Tom Baumann says is ‘ruinous’ for agriculture. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Just Posted

Trudeau exonerates hanged war chiefs of 1864 on B.C. Tsilhqot’in title lands

Prime minister rides horseback with Chief Joe Alphonse, TNG Chairman, to Xeni Gwet’in meeting place

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

Rain, snowfall warnings in effect across B.C.

B.C.’s Interior set to get hit with snow while the Lower Mainland is expected to see more rain

Turn your clocks back: Daylight Saving time ends Sunday

Don’t forget to turn back your clock, change your batteries

Residents search for answers in time of high bear/human conflict

It’s been a stressful year for residents and bears in the Bella Coola Valley

Trudeau warns of dangers of nationalist leaders at historic armistice gathering

U.S. President Donald Trump in recent weeks described himself as a nationalist

Wally Buono exits CFL, stinging from painful playoff loss

B.C. Lions lost the Eastern semifinal to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday, 48-8

Pot company hopes to replace jobs lost in mill closure in B.C. town

About 200 workers lost their jobs when the Tolko sawmill in Merritt shuttered in 2016

Funding announcement promises to drive business innovation in B.C.

Minister is scheduled to make the announcement at the Penticton campus of Okanagan College

Conifex announces a temporary curtailment in operations at Fort St. James mill

Between 180 and 200 people will be affected by the curtailment for at least four weeks

Ticats destroy Lions 48-8 in CFL East Division semifinal

Wally Buono’s last game as B.C. coach ends in disappointment

Olympic decision time for Calgarians in 2026 plebiscite

Calgary’s ‘88 legacy is considered among the most successful in Olympic Games history

Canadians mark Remembrance Day, 100 years since end of First World War

The sombre crowd stood in near-silence as it reflected on the battles that ended a century ago, and those that have come since

B.C. VIEWS: Seniors home worker discrimination finally ending

Health Minister Adrian Dix righting a serious wrong

Most Read