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

Model trains, historical exhibits offered at Parksville museum’s Railway Days

The family-friendly event takes place on Aug. 17 and 18 and is by donation

Coombs, Errington area director won’t run again

Julian Fell endorses Leanne Salter for role

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

Nanoose farm hopes to be more agriculturally transparent

Goal is to have new barn open to the public by spring of 2019

Teens premier Beauty and Beast Jr. Aug. 16 in Qualicum Beach

Outgoing and up-and-coming actors detail benefits of teen program

Interim GoFundMe payments approved in Humboldt Broncos crash

$50,000 to be given to each of the 13 survivors and each family of the 16 people who died

Altidore nets 3 as Toronto drubs Whitecaps 5-2

Vancouver falls 7-4 on aggregate in Canadian Championship final

Ottawa intervenes to get B.C. ball player, 13, to Little League World Series

Before immigration issue was resolved, Dio Gama was out practicing the game he loves Wednesday

Pet goldfish invades small B.C. lake

Pinecrest Lake is located between Whistler and Squamish

Mounties deployed to help B.C. communities affected by wildfires

RCMP officers heading to places particularly within central, northern and southern B.C.

Quebec sets aside $900 million for companies hurt by U.S. tariffs

Premier Philippe Couillard says his government will make $863 million available over five years

B.C. company patents Sasquatch, the country’s first homegrown hops plant

Created by Hops Connect, Sasquatch hops are being grown commercially for the first time in B.C.

Farmers ponder impact of alternatives to pesticides being banned

The nicotine-based pesticides scientists have linked to a rising number of honey bee deaths will be phased out of use in Canada over a three year period starting in 2021.

Most Read