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

Chilliwack-based Tom Baumann says $80K-per-acre in Fraser Valley 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

Portable heaters caused spike in Chilliwack fire calls

Check on heaters to make sure they’re not too close to combustibles, Chilliwack Fire officials say

Federal Green Party reps in Chilliwack ready for their AGM

Deputy Leader Jonina Campbell of the BC Greens will be the keynote speaker on Feb. 27

Sarah Wark and Team B.C. lose to Northern Ontario at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

It was the second straight heartbreaking defeat for Wark after a promising 3-0 start.

Preliminary inquiry starts for Chilliwack woman charged in 2016 fatal hit-and-run

Linnea Labbee, 70, accused in Dec. 1, 2016 incident that killed 78-year-old Fourghozaman Firoozian

UPDATE: Chilliwack man arrested for Agassiz break and enters

Westin Ferguson, 19, faces charges relating to break and enters throughout Agassiz

‘Our entire municipality is heartbroken’: Seven children die in Halifax house fire

A man and woman remained in hospital Tuesday afternoon, the man with life-threatening injuries

B.C. man survives heart attack thanks to Facebook

A Princeton man suffered a heart attack while at an isolated property with no cell service

Abbotsford man sues Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party over trademark

Satinder Dhillon filed application for trademark same day Maxime Bernier announced the new party

New trial ordered over banning whales, dolphins at Vancouver aquarium

Park board’s appeal reverses previous decision that found it had no right to implement a ban

UPDATE: Missing snowshoer identified as 39-year-old Surrey man

Search suspend because of bad weather on Mount Seymour

Make sure measles shots up to date, Public Health Agency says

Measles causes high fever, coughing, sneezing and a widespread painful rash

Minister says plans to fight poverty, climate change, focus of B.C. budget

The NDP said in its throne speech last week that affordability will be the hallmark of its initiatives

Bomb threats, gunfire, kidnapping: Drug war rocks Kamloops

Kamloops RCMP battles a series of violent events

B.C. hotel trashes Channing Tatum in favour of Ryan Reynolds

Tatum’s picture left in recycling bin, replaced with photo of Ryan Reynolds

Most Read