By Connor Lynch
ALEXANDRIA — Eastern Ontario is finally feeling the brakes kick in on farmland prices.
Real estate agents said farmland prices haven’t changed much in the last year or so. Alexandria-based independent farmland real estate agent Richard Vaillancourt said that good-quality, tiled-drained land has consistently been between $12,000 and $15,000 in his area. Closer to Lancaster, and especially along the St. Lawrence River, the land hits $15,000 an acre. Buyers are almost invariably local farmers, usually cash crop or dairy farmers, he said.
Renfrew-based ReMax agent Ross Peever said Renfrew tends to have cheaper land prices and the area is holding steady around $5,000 an acre. Systemic-tiled land between Cobden and Renfrew last year was “$5,000 an acre minus a little bit. Now it’s $5,000 plus,” Peever said. On the west side of Renfrew, it goes as high as $6,500 per acre, Peever said. Mennonites from southern Ontario have been moving into the area in recent years, but they buy marginal land and work it up, Peever said. Local cash crop and dairy farmers buy the good land.
Iroquois-based Marcel Smellink, who runs Smellink Realty, said local land is around $10,000 per acre. Around Brinston, north of Iroquois, it creeps up to $12,000 per acre. Lancaster, he said, can sometimes get as high as $18,000 when agri-food companies get involved. He was aware of two companies — one farm-rental company and an agri-food company growing wheat for its own particular type of flour — that are buying top-quality land for top dollar, much to the annoyance of local farmers trying to buy land.
Down into East-Central Ontario, Durham Region agent Brett Puckrin said apart from a few anomalies, workable land prices are holding steady between $10,000 per acre and $16,000 per acre, with land getting more expensive as one heads farther south.
A run-up on land prices back in the mid-to-late 2000s when commodity prices were stronger seems to have levelled out, Puckrin said.
The University of Guelph did some research on land prices across the province last year, with lead research Brady Deaton releasing the findings last month.
According to that research, here’s the median price for average-quality farmland per acre for some Eastern Ontario counties in 2017:
Kawartha Lakes: $7,000
Prince Edward: $5,000
Lennox-Addington: No data
Frontenac: No data
Lanark: No data
Leeds-Grenville: $3,000 (Leeds-Grenville was based on a survey of 27 farmers on average-quality farmland prices that ranged from $1,000 to $9,000. Deaton noted that median price tends to be lower than average price. In a list of 21 sales, if 11 are at $3,000 an acre and 10 are at $10,000 an acre, the median sale price would be in the middle at $3,000.)
Ottawa (Carleton): $9,500
Stormont, Dundas &G lengarry: $10,000