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

ELECTION: Langley School Board a mix of incumbents and newcomers

Seven people were elected to oversee the public schools of Langley.

Langley player to compete in first NCAA basketball tournament in Canada

Former Brookswood star Louise Forsyth to play in Vancouver Showcase

VIDEO: Scouts in Langley learn how to communicate during emergencies

Weekend event at Camp McLean part of worldwide Jamboree On The Air and Jamboree On The Internet

ELECTION 18: Langley Township, you chose Jack Froese for mayor

Township voters went with a familiar face, handing incumbent a third term as mayor

Giants busy on ice in Langley and on the road

A teen goalie helps the squad during a glut of games.

Young boxers featured at Friday’s Clash @ the Cascades

‘Clash @ the Cascades’ boxing series to continue at the Cascades Convention Centre

Aldergrove Kodiaks take narrow loss to Wolf Pack

Kodiaks took a 4-5 loss in the dying minutes of the third period against PJHL’s leading team

Vancouver cops, four-legged pals pose for police dog calendar

Proceeds go to fighting cancer and helping sick kids

Liberals write off $6.3 billion in loans as part of money never to be collected

That includes student loans and a $2.6 billion write off that came through Export Development Canada

Category 5 Hurricane Willa threatens Mexico’s Pacific coast

Hurricane-force winds extended 30 miles (45 kilometres) from the storm’s centre

Trudeau, McKenna to announce compensation for federal carbon plan

Provinces that don’t have a carbon price of at least $20 per tonne of emissions will have Ottawa’s plan forced on them

Okanagan parachute accident kills American

Man, 34, dies in skydiving accident Saturday near Westwold, between Vernon and Kelowna

Man who died at BC Ferries terminal shot himself as police fired: watchdog

Officers didn’t commit any offence, says police watchdog office

Most Read