Mark Twain was fond of advising his readers and those attending his lectures that they should “Buy land, because it appears they’re not making any more of it”.
There was a time, not so long ago when farmland on the Canadian prairies was destined not to rise in value. In the 1980’s grain prices were depressed and crops were affected by a prolonged drought. The federal government of the day, headed by Brian Mulroney, made it a priority to help prairie farmers get off the land, even if they had to sell at a loss.
What goes around comes around as they say. With grain prices soaring to their highest level in years, farmland is now a very hot commodity. RE/Max issued a report recently that said farmland in southwest Manitoba was selling for an average $1,350 an acre. That’s a jump of 35% in less than two years, and as much as a 300% jump in a little over 15 years.
The story is the same all across the prairies, and the RE/Max report said in most cases those who are selling don’t even have to put up a sign. Farmland is also now being seen more and more as a worthwhile ‘investment’, since mutual funds and other more traditional investments are still generating such meager returns.
What you don’t see when you travel across large areas of the open prairie are people. Individual farms are getting larger and larger. Unless it’s seeding or harvest time, you’re not likely to find many people on the highways and country roads.
When you get into town, it’s a different story. Most prairie communities are growing. All in all, it’s a good place to be in 2012.
I’m Roger Currie
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