FEBRUARY 2019 • COUNTRY LIFE IN BC Annual assessments a chance to take stock

Decrease in assessed value of farmland doesn't tell the whole story BC Assessment Authority

reported a reduction in the taxable value of all farmland

Viewpoint by FREDDY MARKS

in the province when it released the 2019 tax roll at the beginning of January. This can be misinterpreted when you are unaware of how and why BC Assessment collects and processes its findings. Only the land itself that is approved for farm status is included in this farmland value calculation. This means that if you have

a five-acre farm and only four acres are in agricultural production, just those four acres are assessed as farmland. The other acre of land, most likely used for residential purposes, is assessed as residential. This is known as split classification. It is the mandate of BC

Assessment to process all farm status applications and accurately represent the farmland counted in its statistical data for property taxation purposes. When a property is classified as a farm by BC Assessment, the value is assessed at rates set by the provincial government. The assessed value is lower than the assessed value for residential, commercial or industrial land. This results in lower property taxes, and is one of the methods the BC government uses to encourage farming. BC Assessment uses

legislated farmland value schedules set by the lieutenant governor through the Land Values for Farm Land regulation under the BC Assessment Act. The land value schedules rate land according to “land capability” or “soil capability” and

respectively to the soil capability classification for agriculture. It is through this method that the taxable land value of each farm status property is determined. What the 2019 tax roll ultimately shows is that the taxable value of farmland has seen a reduction in every region. Farmland is not assessed at market value, but at its value in farm use only, without regard to its value for other purposes. The overall market value of farmland has not decreased in the province. Farm Credit Canada’s historical statistics report that BC farmland has increased in market value every year since 2011. Over the last seven years, the biggest valuation increase was in 2016. FCC data for 2017 indicates the Vancouver Island market having very few properties for sale in 2016 and 2017 and that the bulk of sales was in the area of farmland expansion of existing producers. BC Assessment historical

stats show the property count by subclass. In 2016, the total farm class property count was 51,560. In 2017, that number increased to 51,817. In 2018, the number of farm properties fell to 51,043. This decrease of 774 farm

properties was again reduced by another 43 properties in the 2019 count for a current total of 51,000. The reason for the decrease in assessment counts of farm- class properties can be

ranch land has become increasingly sought after for uses other than agriculture. The Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island have seen unprecedented urban growth and agricultural land has seen

development each year. Since its inception in 1973, the Agricultural Land Commission has considered over 45,000 applications to remove or subdivide ALR properties, to use agricultural land for non- farm purposes, or to include land in the ALR. The

commission reviews 500 to 700 new applications each year.


The passage of Bill 52 at the end of November has strengthened protections for the ALR. It will address issues facing our agricultural land, including the purchase of farmland for large residences and the dumping of construction debris, toxic waste and other fill that can irreparably damage

attributed to several factors. Being a voluntary program, in any given year there are farms that no longer qualify or the applications are not received or not assessed in time to be counted. This contributes to fluctuations in what BC Assessment reports. The reduced count may also reflect the number of farmers and ranchers who have retired over the past couple of years. Furthermore, farm and

increased applications to change property zoning and remove it from the Agricultural Land Reserve. Residential development is a common alternative use. The ALR was created in 1973 to protect 4.7 million hectares of farmland, because only 5% of BC’s land area is considered suitable for agriculture. At that time more than 6,000 hectares of farmland was being lost to

arable soil. All owners of land used for

agricultural purposes in BC should apply for farm-class status with the BC Assessment Authority. Doing so will help identify where the changes in land use are, reduce your property taxes, and ultimately strengthen the agricultural industry in our province. Freddy Marks is managing

broker of 3A Group, Sutton Showplace Realty, in Agassiz.


Our passion is to help grow yours.

BMO’s dedicated team of local professionals is proud to serve the BC agribusiness community.

1-866-820-7603 | BAUMALIGHT.COM Dale Howe | (403) 462-1975 |



Talk to us today.

Diane Murphy 604-504-4980

Vice President, Agriculture - Abbotsford Lana Dueck 250-828-8825

Vice President, Agriculture - Kamloops

Iain Sutherland 604-751-0292 Agriculture Manager - Kamloops Ken Nickel 604-504-4970

Agriculture Manager - Abbotsford Lynn Lashuk 250-979-7827

Agriculture Manager - Kelowna

Orlando Schmidt 604-504-4978 Agriculture Manager - Abbotsford

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47