Several ranchers and farmers have told the Public Hearing into the Rocky View County Plan that they are deeply concerned about dropping agriculture land values and the impact it will have on retirements and the ability to borrow money to fund capital expenditures and operations.
Their concerns are supported by figures compiled by Alberta Agriculture, which shows a stunning decrease in the per-acre value of sales in recent years. While per-acre values were once more than double the provincial average only a few years ago, the figure has dropped so that now the provincial average for agriculture land sales is double what agriculture land in Rocky View is being sold for.
For example: agriculture land sales in Rocky View averaged $1,468.25 per acres in 2002 and$1,487.05 per acre in 2009. Last year in 2012 the average price per acre for agricultural land sold was $668.66.
The full government report can be found here and the trend change is startling.
Ranchers and farmers told the hearing before Council that the decreased value is making it more expensive and more difficult to borrow money. The lack of development potential also prevents them from selling parcels for development that could help raise money for ever-increasing capital expenditures. They expressed real-life concerns that the proposed County Plan will have a very negative impact on them.
Others said the proposed County Plan that will control development for at least the next decade will make it very difficult to sell agriculture lands for them to retire. The proposed Plan sets growth limits at a maximum of 2.5 to three per cent of the increase in regional population, down from the previously approved six per cent in the Rocky View 2060 Growth Strategy. It also pushes almost all development to existing approved growth nodes.
The Public Hearing concludes July 23 starting at 1.30 p.m. and the public is encouraged to make presentations of up to five minutes in length.