Ontario farm values up, Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) finds

By John Miner, The London Free Press

A look at how much farm values have risen in Middlesex County (MPAC)

A look at how much farm values have risen in Middlesex County (MPAC)

It’s a bumper harvest that could come with a cost for Ontario farmers.

The red hot market for farmland across the province for the last few years has yielded dramatically higher assessments for agricultural properties that will be used by municipalities to set taxes starting next year.

The Municipal Property Assessment Corp. (MPAC) mailed out the news to more than 220,000 agricultural properties last week.

The updated values for individual farms confirm farm values have surged over the last four years, up 16 per cent a year across the province with all classes of farmland going up. The combined value of the province’s farms now stands at about $90 billion.

Some of the biggest increases are in the north part of Middlesex County where farms have shot up as much as 27 per cent a year in the Lucan area.

In contrast, property assessment for a residence in London went up by 1.5 per cent, according to MPAC.

MPAC and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture are advising farmers to take a close look at their individual assessments to ensure the information is correct.

MPAC spokesperson Darlene Rich said the corporation reviewed six to eight years of farmland sales to determine farm values.

MPAC assesses farm property based on the sales data of farmland sold to farmers, she said. “We don’t include sales where farmland is sold to a developer.”

MPAC attributed the rise in Ontario farm values to a number of factors, including historically low interest rates, demand for land outweighing the supply, non-agricultural buyers purchasing land, and intensive livestock operations needing land to spread nutrients.

The high prices in Southwestern Ontario, where farms in some areas are selling for $20,000 an acre, have prompted farmers from the area to purchase lower priced land in northern and eastern Ontario, MPAC said.

Increases by county

Though all classes of farms increased in value over the four-year period, MPAC found variations in counties:

Middlesex: Land near London up 13 per cent a year; elsewhere, assessed values rose 15-27 per cent.

Chatham-Kent: 11-17 per cent

Lambton: 14-24 per cent, most areas up more than 20 per cent.

Huron: 14-25 per cent

Perth: St. Marys-area farms up 17 per cent, points north more than 20 per cent

Oxford: From 12 per cent in eastern areas to 28 per cent in some northern sections.

Elgin: Most areas less than 17 per cent, many areas just 12 per cent.