FCC reports rise in Canadian farmland values

REGINA, SASKATCHEWAN–(Marketwired – April 15, 2013) – A strong agricultural economy fuelled by low interest rates, growing world food demand and resulting higher commodity prices, continue to underpin a national increase in average farmland values. The average value of Canadian farmland increased by 10.0% during the second half of 2012, according to a new Farm Credit Canada (FCC) Farmland Values Report.

The FCC report provides important information about changes in farmland values across Canada. In the two previous six-month reporting periods, farmland values increased by 8.6% and 6.9%. Average farmland values remained virtually the same in British Columbia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador. Average farmland values increased in the other provinces. Quebec experienced the highest average increase at 19.4%.

Canadian farmland values have continued to rise over the last decade. The current average national increase of 10.0% is the highest since FCC began reporting. The second highest increase of 8.6% occurred in the first half of 2012. The last time the average value decreased was by 0.6% in 2000.

“The market is currently being driven by existing producers interested in expanding their current land base,” said Michael Hoffort, FCC Senior Vice-President of Portfolio and Credit Risk. “With most transactions involving an incremental addition to the holdings of established operations, it is common to see aggressive bidding to secure land available for sale. Producers want to achieve economies of scale and use newer technology to farm larger areas. They also recognize limited opportunity to purchase land near their current operations.”

The national value of farmland has increased at the annual rate of 12% on average since 2008, about twice the level it did from 2002 to 2007.

“Strong crop receipts create a favourable environment for higher farmland values,” said J.P. Gervais, FCC Chief Agricultural Economist. “Low interest rates make it easier for producers to consider expanding their farm operation.” He cautioned buyers to do their homework and ensure their budgets have room to flex should commodity prices fall back from current highs or interest rates rise to more traditional levels.

Gervais noted that current farmland values also reflect expectations of future crop receipts. Recent agricultural outlook reports in Canada and the United States suggest that while crop prices are expected to come down from recent highs, prices are projected to remain above historical averages over the next ten years. “The outlook for Canadian agriculture is really positive,” Gervais said.

“While there is some concern that farm debt in Canada is increasing, net farm income – especially in the grain and oilseed sector – has roughly increased at the same pace,” Hoffort added.

Increasing farmland values might make it more difficult for young producers to expand or get into the business. Alternatives are to lease some of the land – not giving up the possibility to build equity by purchasing land, but complementing the business model by looking at the leasing market. Crop share rental agreements and joint ventures can sometimes meet the needs of the landlord and the farmer, but the decision to buy or lease really depends on the financial situation of individual producers.

According to the 2011 Ag Census, the majority of the total land in agriculture (including areas that were used by others) in Canada was owned by those who operate it, at 61.5%. This is followed by rented land at 21.9% and land leased from government at 13.1%.

The FCC Farmland Values Report has been published since 1985. FCC established a system with 245 benchmark farm properties to monitor variations in bareland values across Canada. FCC appraisers estimate market value using recent comparable sales. These sales must be arm’s-length transactions. Once sales are selected, they are reviewed, analyzed and adjusted to the benchmark properties.

To see the FCC Farmland Values Report video, visit www.fcc.ca/farmlandvaluesvideo and to view previous reports, visit www.farmlandvalues.ca.

As Canada’s leading agriculture lender, FCC is advancing the business of agriculture. With a healthy portfolio of more than $25 billion and 20 consecutive years of portfolio growth, FCC is strong and stable – committed to serving the industry through all cycles. FCC provides financing, insurance, software, learning programs and other business services to producers, agribusinesses and agri-food operations. FCC employees are passionate about agriculture and committed to the success of customers and the industry. For more information, visit www.fcc.ca. Follow FCC on Twitter @FCCagriculture.

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