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dairy and poultry farms, and cole and forage crops. Abbotsford also has a major floriculture and nursery industry. “In the Chilliwack area there is a lot of greenhouse production where flowers are grown, (along with) organic berry and vegetable farms, as well as dairy and poultry farms.” Surprisingly, Klop stated that land

prices in the Lower Mainland area were not considerably higher than those in the Fraser Valley. Suggestions that prices were in the $120-130,000 an acre are not true, says Klop.

“I am just in the process now listing 112 acres for sale next to Highway 17 (the highway to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal in Delta) and the asking price is running around the $60,000 mark. However, when you get near to the port area of Roberts Bank, then it is a whole new ball game again and land in that area is very expensive because of planned port expansion.

Klop said a comparative market evaluation for the 112 acres showed that among several large parcels, a potato farm sold for $54,000 an acre, and that included land and buildings. “Considering these farm properties are all in the vicinity of the Vancouver

airport/Richmond and Roberts Bank port areas, one would think they would be very expensive, but they are not.” Klop says smaller parcels of farmland are now being bought up and converted to raising small livestock such as goats and sheep or for growing a wide range of berry and cole crops for local consumption. He recently sold a nine-acre property

in Columbia Valley (south of Chilliwack) which had cultivated blackberries on it and also has a three-acre vineyard. The buyers were from Yaletown in downtown Vancouver. Klop says they are excited about owning a farm and have plans for future development that will offer the public an on-farm experience. It is another example, says Klop of people turning small acreages into enterprising opportunities. “This is just one example of people who are genuinely interested in farming; who are innovative; creative; and can come up with new ideas which is one of the real strengths farmers have.

When Klop was asked if the so-called urban-rural divide was slowly encroaching on our finite supply of farmland, he answered in no uncertain

terms. “Absolutely. That is why, in my

opinion, it is vitally important that programs such as Ag in the Classroom teach our students about all aspects of farming. It is very important that programs educate our young people to better understand how farming enterprises operate. “Food does not just come from the

grocery store or farm market or the supermarket. It comes from a farming operation so then when they smell manure being spread on farm land they understand it is critical to the overall production of their food.

Klop was raised and lived on a farm all his life, and now with a wife and family of his own, he realizes how important our food supply is. “Consumers today want to know where it comes from, who produced it, and whether they maintain the high standards that have made Canada’s food both safe and reliable.

“I think we are blessed to live in an area that produces such a wide variety of the many food products we enjoy today and right where we can see them. It is nice to see that our farmers are now getting the respect they deserve.”

FCC survey indicates trend toward steadier values F

arm Credit Canada’s most recent Farmland Values Report shows there was a continued rise in farmland values during 2014, but one that wasn't as steep as the previous year, both nationally and in many key agricultural regions. Average farmland values in Canada had a 14.3 per cent increase in 2014, compared to 22.1 per cent in 2013. "2013 was a really strong year," says Ron Bonnet, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. "I think what we're seeing is a matching up of farmland values and commodity prices. You can usually draw a link between the two." The report reveals a strong demand for cropland and farmland, including an increase in value of the more marginal land to reflect cattle prices and a need for more pastureland. FCC attributes drought in the United States as one reason for the 2013 spikes.

In particular, Manitoba and Saskatchewan showed the most significant change from 2013 to 2014, slowing from an increase of 25.6 to 12.2 per cent and from 28.5 to 18.7 per cent, respectively.

The figures also indicate a trend towards steadier values. "While the increases are still significant in many parts of the country, they do suggest we are moving toward more moderate increases for farmland values," says Corinna Mitchell-Beaudin, FCC executive vice-president and chief risk officer. “This is good news for producers since gradual change in the value of this key asset is always better for those entering or leaving the industry.” Other provinces, including British Columbia, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, continued to see single-digit increases, while the value of farmland in Newfoundland and Labrador remained unchanged from 2013.

The FCC report says B.C. farmland values increased an average of 4.2 per cent last year, following increases of three per cent in 2013 and just 0.1 per cent in 2012. In general, the market for land on Vancouver Island remained soft, with the exception of a slight increase in value for good quality farmland.

“In the Lower Mainland, including the Fraser Valley, farmland values remained relatively stable despite the moderation in demand,” the report states.

The South Okanagan market continued to see a significant number of listings, but few sales in some localized areas, which is indicative of slower demand.

The Kootenay area saw a more active market in 2014, which was primarily focused on smaller holdings. Demand for orchards continued to be low, with sale listings remaining on the market for extended periods.

Prices in the Cariboo region stayed relatively stable. In a few localized areas there was increased demand for good quality land for intensive field crop production. This appeared to be influenced by an influx of buyers from other areas of B.C. where land prices were substantially higher. The Northwest region had average demand in a reasonably active land market. Demand from beef operators and part- time farmers continued to be the main driver. The Peace River region continued to see values increase. Established local farmers looking to expand, and relocated and remote farmers looking for large farmland tracts, continued to compete for available farmland.

British Columbia Berry Grower • Summer 2015 15

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