Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Farmland prices rising fast

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PEAK commodity values, low interest rates and limited inventory is pushing the price of farmland up dramatically across the country.

Re/Max Market Trends Report: Farm Edition 2013 says the price of farmland in southwestern Manitoba rose by more than nine per cent in the last year from an average of $1,200-to-$1,500 per acre to $1,350-to-$1,600 per acre.

Farmland in the Red River Valley is even more dear, but Re/Max does not have data for that area.

Irrigated land designated for specialty crops like potatoes is going as high as $3,500 to $4,500 per acre.

Although the report said there was a 16 per cent increase in land sales in southwestern Manitoba, it is still considered a seller's market with plenty of demand.

Prices are typically dependent on fluctuating interest rates and commodity prices but demand remains strong this year, even though agricultural commodity prices are down from the very high rates of a year ago.

"There is real good demand but there is a shortage of supply. That's the big issue right now," said Ian Anderson, a Re/Max agent in the Hamiota area. "There are lots of farmers in the area who would love to expand but there is just no land available."

He said most of the demand for land comes from farmers operating in the area and while contiguous land is most desirable, Anderson said it is now not uncommon for farmers to travel more than 30 kilometres between their fields.

"I know one fellow with land in five different rural municipalities," Anderson said. "Travel is not an issue."

Immigrant farmers from Europe are among the most active in the market these days in southwestern Manitoba.

One family from Britain recently acquired 350 acres right next to the 2,000-acre farm in the region they have been working for 10 years.

"It would be wrong to miss the opportunity," said the farmer's wife, who asked her name not be used.

She said farmland in Canada is inexpensive compared to Europe and she believes it is almost always going to be a good investment.

"People have to eat," she said. "The price of land in Europe has been on a rising curve for a long time. North America is just catching up with the rest of the world."

The Re/Max report shows the price per acre is up in all but two of the 17 markets it monitors.

The biggest percentage increases this year have been in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario.

B.C.'s Fraser Valley had the highest prices, by far, of any market covered by the Re/Max study at between $40,000 and $60,000 per acre -- the same as last year.

martin.cash@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 11, 2013 B4

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