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Okanagan prices 'stable' as B.C. led the country in farmland price increases

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British Columbia led the way nationally in cultivated farmland value last year with the Kootenay region seeing the biggest surge provincially.

Figures in the Farmland Credit Canada 2020 farmland values report, issued earlier this week, indicate values are up 5.4 per cent nationally and eight per cent across B.C. as a whole.

The Kootenay region saw an increase of 28.1 per cent while irrigated properties in the Thompson-Nicola saw a 16.7 per cent increase in value.

Both areas saw an increase in buyers from outside the region who were motivated by more affordable land and the opportunity to escape more populated areas.

Perhaps surprisingly, Farmland Credit’s report called the Okanagan’s cultivated land values "stable," with limited land available for sale in that market. But the report did not include values for fruit growing properties this year.

Farm Credit Canada senior appraiser Sandra Behm says orchards and vineyards weren’t included in this year’s report because the findings are a general analysis with averages over the whole province and the whole country.

"Kelowna is a strong market, but there are few parcels of cultivated land available, so there’s not much data. The North Okanagan, Coldstream and Armstrong areas, still have abundant cultivated land. Orchard and vineyard land is driven by its own market - it doesn’t follow the same trends as cultivated land, so we want to keep the analysis comparative to the type of land,” Behm says.

She says orchard and vineyard markets are fuelled by different motivations.

They were excluded to avoid skewing the results by showing huge increases when other agricultural properties remained at stable or moderate levels.

As an example, Okanagan agricultural land was valued at $24,400 an acre in this year’s report.

Last year, with orchard and vineyard properties included, Okanagan farmland was valued at  $103,288 an acre.

Behm says demand is strong for orchard and vineyard lands, but prices would be reflected differently, partly due to parcel sizes.

A five acre parcel will show a higher rate than a 20 acre parcel. Smaller parcels are more sensitive to market fluctuations because they attract farmers and rural residential buyers.

She says Farm Credit Canada will be producing a new report pricing fruit land separately to be released sometime in the next fiscal.

“We are excited to be going this route. B.C. numbers don’t represent what is happening here, so we are happy to see some additional representation for people to get a grasp on,” Behm says.

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