An Introduction to Farmland Investing
Farmland is a fantastic investment! We eat food everyday and it is an important part of our culture. Since food is so in-grained in our lives it only makes sense that it should also be a part of our investment strategy. 😀 Inflation hedging is the main reason why some investors are looking at agriculture. It’s just another way to fight the higher cost of living. But unlike gold, which is also a hedge against inflation, farms have the added benefit to be produce goods and generate income. 😉
My two parcels of farmland which I purchased several years ago have returned over 10% a year so far, which I’ve detailed in previous posts. And Canadian farmers have been doing really well for themselves too. My tenant says many farmers want to sell their land because they need the capital to purchase combines and other machinery which often costs $300,000 and up.
Saskatchewan has the cheapest farmland in all of Canada. That’s where I bought my farm land.
As for investment returns there are 2 ways to make money on a piece of farmland; capital appreciation and income. Capital appreciation means if the value of the land goes up then the investor can sell it for a profit. Income from a farm will either be from cash rent, or crop share. Cash rent is calculated by dollars per cultivated acre. Cheaper farms will generally sell for around $500 an acre, and can expect a cattle farmer to rent it for $20/acre annually. But high quality land with rich clay loam will sell for $2,500 per acre or more on the market. Of course they will also attract grain farmers who would pay up to $100/acre annually to rent. Experienced cereal farmers can be very productive with good soil and can easily generate over $400/acre of output (harvested crops) on top quality farmland. So farmers will generally pay higher rent if they think the land will yield more crops. The alternative to cash rent as mentioned earlier is a crop share, where after the crops are harvested and sold the land owner gets a share of the total sales, usually about 20% to 30%. In most cases crop share makes more money for the landlord, but it’s also more risky. If the farmer has a bad year for whatever reason (locusts, flooding, etc) then the landlord will share the burden. Cash rent on the other hand pushes all these risks onto the farmer because the landlord still gets paid no matter what happens to the crop’s performance. 🙂
If investors have a background in agriculture they may consider doing something else called custom farming. This is when the landowner or investor hires a farmer as a contractor to operate the farm. Depending on the agreement the contractor could perform only certain tasks like swathing and transportation, or operate the entire farming process from seeding to harvesting. The input costs likes seeds and machinery is paid by the owner. The contractor just acts as an employee. The benefit of custom farming for land owners is they receive all the income from sales and have control over the entire farming process. But the disadvantage of custom farming is it puts the financial and management risks completely on the owners.
Farmers in Canada make pretty good money. They have benefited greatly from the rise in soft commodity prices over the years as everyone pays more for food. Farmers also receive benefits from government programs like cheaper gasoline at the pumps, affordable farm insurance, and low financing rates on farm equipment for younger farmers.
Here are the most recent stats I could find on how much money farmers are making. Notice that even during the last recession when other sectors of the economy saw lots of people being laid off, incomes of farming households on average managed to stay steady. 🙂 This tells us that agriculture is a safe investment, and unlike a hot stock or a popular trend we can be pretty certain that farms and farming related services are here to stay.
I already have a condo in Vancouver, but property prices here may not be very stable so investing in farmland gives me the opportunity to diversify my real estate portfolio. And what better place to buy real estate now than in one of the economically fastest growing provinces in Canada. 🙂 Plus, unlike residential real estate, farmland prices are less volatile because you don’t have a building (depreciating asset) to worry about when it comes to annual assessments. Even people from Europe are coming to Canada to buy farmland. In terms of price per productive acres, we have some of the cheapest in the world right now. 😀 The historic returns on farmland is arguably more attractive than the stock market. In the long run diversification is important to me. Nobody knows what will happen 10 years from now, but if our food is going to become more expensive, then it’s relatively safe to assume the lands that produce these food will follow the same way. Ultimately I think having a balance of stocks, fixed income, and alternative investments such as farmland is a good mix to weather the ups and downs of the economy. 😀
How to Directly Invest in Farmland
Farmland investing works the same way as investing in a rental property. You’ll require a realtor, a lender (optional), and a lawyer. Make sure the lawyer you find is from the same province that you’re buying the farmland in because only they have access to the bar in their jurisdiction. Some banks will lend up to 75% of a farmland so make sure you have at least a 25% down payment. If you can’t find a mortgage broker or a bank willing to give you financing for a farm, you can go to Farm Credit Canada. They finance more than half the farms in the country, but personally I’ve found their interest rates are not as competitive as a traditional lender’s.
With the advent of the internet it is very easy for the average Joe to make a real estate transaction. You can buy a farm without ever leaving your city. For example when I bought my first farm my real estate agent drafted up an offer for me to sign. I printed it out to sign, then scanned it, and emailed him back the signed copies. The seller then did the same on his end and both the seller and myself (the buyer) each got a copy of the purchase agreement. Piece of cake. 😀 After signing some additional legal documents with a lawyer, the land became mine.
Here’s a simple example just for demonstration purposes.
Step 1: Find a farm listing you like. For example, the following one I found on popular site realtor.ca.
Step 2: Do your due diligence. Every farmland listing will have a “legal description” which represents its location in the province. The legal description is essentially the farm’s address. You can use a free service such as prairielocator.com to translate this description into coordinates that you can then plug into Google Maps to see what the farm looks like. This allows you to get an aerial look at the terrain. Below is an example of how to analyze farmland using Google Maps. Each square represents 160 acres of farmland, which is one property title.
Step 3: Call up the real estate company or selling agent. Tell the agent you’re looking to invest in farmland. He or she will answer any questions you have about the listing and send you papers to sign if you decide to make an offer. Alternatively if you have your own realtor, get him or her to get in touch with the listing agent instead.
Step 4: If you’re like me and don’t have enough savings to buy the farm outright you’ll need to get a loan. Call your local Farm Credit Canada representative and ask them to finance your purchase. Alternatively you can call your bank and get a long term farm loan like I did. I bank with TD Canada Trust and applied for something called a “Long term farm loan.” Other banks may have similar options.Step 5: Contact a lawyer. I found a law firm called Andrews Benko in Regina by searching through a phone book. They are by no means the cheapest or best lawyers, but I don’t live in Regina so I just went with the best out of 3 random offices I cold called. Tell your lawyer you’re buying farmland.
Step 6: Tell your lender to send the mortgage instructions to your lawyer if you require a loan. Otherwise, your lawyer just needs you to sign some legal papers.
Congrats! You now know how to buy a farm 🙂 Easy right? Just like buying a house. I’ve left out some of the details but I’m sure you understand the high-level process now. Please see the 8 steps under “How to Directly Invest in Real Estate” under the Real Estate Investing page for further details on buying property in general.
However there are restrictions to keep in mind for foreign investors. (source: gowlings.com.)
- British Columbia – No restriction on foreign ownership.
- Alberta – Non-residents can own up to 20 acres of farmland.
- Saskatchewan – Non-residents can own up to 10 acres of farmland. Entities that are partially foreign-owned but controlled by Saskatchewan residents or their farming corporations can own up to 320 acres.
- Manitoba – Non-residents can own up to 40 acres of farmland.
- Ontario – No restriction on foreign ownership.
- Quebec – Non-residents must get permission to buy more than 4 hectares (about 10 acres) of farmland from the Commission de la protection du territoire agricole du Québec.
BC and Ontario are the only provinces that allow unrestricted foreign investment from non Canadians. Not surprisingly their farmland prices are also the most expensive in the country. This is why I purchased Saskatchewan farmland despite living in Vancouver. A farm in B.C. is easily ten to twenty times more expensive than a same sized farm in Saskatchewan.
Indirect Ways to Invest in Farmland
Here are some other ways to invest in the agricultural space without directly buying farms.
Assiniboia Capital Corporation and AgCapita are companies that sell farmland funds to individual investors. AgCapita operates like a hedge fund. They pool investor’s money to purchase assets (farmland) and then rent it out to local farmers. Their revenue model comes from capital gains, rent, and other operating incomes. They use the standard two and twenty system. So managers charge a flat 2% annual fee of the total asset value, plus an additional 20% on any profits, so the more money they make for investors the more money they make for themselves. Funds are sold through their 3rd party exempt market partners. Recommended minimum investment in these funds are usually $10,000. If you have deeper pockets companies like MaxCorp will let you buy farmland directly and lend up to 50% of the value of the land. Good farmland can be anywhere between $100K to $400K per quarter depending on location and soil quality. A quick Google search will give you more information about each of those companies but I’m not affiliated with any of them.
Another way to invest in the greater agricultural space is to buy shares of publicly traded companies that supply the farm industry. Some examples are Deere (farm equipment manufacturer,) Monsanto (largest seed provider in Canada,) Potash Corp (fertilizer producer.) The average return these companies have returned to their shareholders over the last 10 years is over 700%. These are just some examples of large names in ag space, but there are many other companies we can invest in that are also very profitable like Agrium, Mosaic, CF Industries, etc. Research these stocks on your own before buying any of them. A popular way to reduce risk in a portfolio is to diversify, so if you wanted to invest $5,000 for example, then you can consider choosing 2 of these agricultural related companies and invest $2,500 into each.
My Personal Experience with Farmland Investing
In the beginning of 2012 I saw an analyst on BNN talking about farmland investing. After doing some research I realized that successful investors like Jim Rogers are very bullish on farms. The more I thought about it the more the investment idea made sense. It became clear to me that I had to get a piece of farmland before it’s too late. In October of 2012 I made an offer on a farm for $150,000 in Saskatchewan. It is 160 acres or a quarter mile square. That’s about 804 meters by 804 meters. The down payment necessary to buy the land was 25% which is $37,500. However I only had $20,000 of cash at the time so I borrowed the remaining $17,500 on a line of credit to meet the minimum down payment requirement. I currently have a tenant working on the farm. He grows his wheat and sells it on the open market while paying me cash rent at roughly $5,000 a year. Meanwhile the cost of owning the farmland for me costs about $5,800 (interest on loan, property tax, etc) Which means I have a net loss of $800 a year running this farm. But I’m not concerned about negative cash flow because all I need to break even is for the farm to appreciate at least 0.5% each year. It’s a simple matter of sacrificing income for capital appreciation.
In 2013 I bought another piece of farm. The rent is paid twice a year. Half the annual amount in April, and the other half in October just like the first one. Each farm rent is paid separately. My total rental income is now roughly $10K per year.
I bought my first farm in 2012 for about $900 per acre. And in the spring of 2013 I purchased my second farm, which is located adjacent to my first one, for about $1,100 per acre. In 2014, the values of both my farms are worth at least $1200 to $1500 per acre. So in the last short while I’ve been very lucky 🙂 Click map below to make large.
Prices are sourced from from the REMAX 2013 farm prices report (PDF,) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture land values report (PDF.)
In 2014 Canadian farmland values increased 14% on average. And in 2015 the average price increase was 10%.
Here is more complete data about the change in farmland values across Canada.
I also own some Potash and Deere stocks as an indirect play on the agriculture industry. The risk to farmland investing is that farm prices could drop in the future. But with agricultural land areas diminishing in Canada due to expanding cities and climate change, as well as continued population growth in not only this country but also many other countries that Canada exports our foods to, I have a feeling the demand for Canadian farmland will continue to stay strong over the long term.
More Articles and information on Farmland Investing: (Best to read in chronological order)
Why Invest in Farmland (An introduction to why so many investors are looking at farmland.)
Trip Across Western Canada (I travelled to the Canadian prairies to do some farmland investing research.)
Farmland Update (I decided to look at buying farmland myself after doing some research, and made my first offer.)
My New Saskatchewan Farm (I share my experience buying my first farm in 2012, including my financial details, rental rate, loan process, etc.)
My Second Farmland (I bought another farm in 2013. 🙂 Once again using the power of leverage I bought a $172K farm with just $20K of my own savings.)
FAQ About Being a Landlord (Rental rate, investment returns, rent per acre, farmland income, lease agreement templates, everything you need to know about being a farm landlord.)
Fiscal Update April 2014 (Saskatchewan farmland values increased 28% in 2013, which means in a relatively short amount of time my farms gained over $50,000 in value.)
I’ve invested my money into Canadian farmland myself, and it sounds like it will be a great investment. Prices been steadily rising, in 2012 it almost reached 20%. I like your approach, but sounded like a whole lot of work! So, I went a different way.
Great research and post 🙂 AgCapita is an excellent way for investors with perhaps not a great sum of capital to get exposed to farmland. I was looking into their 3rd farmland fund last year debating if I should invest with them or on my own. I think it depends on the investor’s personality. One of the reasons I took the direct route is because I wanted to use leverage to invest, but AgCapita doesn’t use leverage in their business model, when they represent their clients. Of course most investors would probably love the idea of no leverage (^_^) because dealing with cash is always safer. After all, you’ll never be in negative equity if the price of farmland goes down every now and then 🙂 I know I probably take on more risk than I should but I like to invest dangerously lol. I heard AgCapita is launching a 4th farmland fund and is currently looking for investors again. I might look into that option in the future and participate in that fund. What they do really well is help the investor diversify so if there’s a flood in one region of Saskatchewan, the risk is spread out 😀 Their fee structure is very fair I think, and similar to other hedge funds, where they have a 2% annual management fee and then 20% of any profits over the term of an investor’s contract. You definitely get what you pay for because their team appears to be quite competent. If anyone has $5K or $10K lying around I would recommend they take a look at AgCapita funds.
I have been looking for a way to invest in farming and was very excited to find out about AgCapita. I was especially excited to find out that the newest release is offering units for sale for $5,000. I have $5,000.
I was then crushed, and back to having no way of investing in farmland, because I do not meet their investor criteria. I have not made a minimum of $75,000 in each of the last two years and I do not have an expectation of making that in the future. My net worth is far under the $400,000 minimum that they are looking for as well.
Being shut out of the best offers (credit card rewards, GIC rates and now buying in to farmland) is a regular thing for people who make $50,000. Still very annoyed today.
Sounds like you live in the land of the free.
How do you go about findinf a tenant and how difficult is it to evict ?
It’s not too difficult to find a tenant. You can contact the local real estate agents or brokers to interested farmers. The population in rural areas is small and people know each other. You can cut a deal with the broker so they would get a portion of the first year’s rent. Eviction doesn’t usually happen for farmland. The tenant pays half of the year’s rent first before you give permission for him to use it. If he doesn’t pay you can rent it to someone else. Since it’s not a home, you don’t have to force anyone off your property since they’re not staying there overnight or living there. It’s barren land with no buildings. It can get very cold at night.
This is very true and enlightened
Thanks for sharing! I am ready to set up my business in Canada but I need more information about pros and cons in agriculture. I am a novice in that industry but I have read many useful researches and think that this business is very profitable. Three years ago my friend who has been living in British Columbia for 15 years took a loan to start the business. He was recommended to go on samedayloanspayday.com. There he got what he was interested in. So after his business went up, I totally decided to try. Who knows? I risk but who doesn’t risk – doesn’t succeed. Wish good luck to me!
Thanks so much for sharing. I had been looking for someone’s first hand account of investing in farmland in Canada and couldnt find anyone. Glad I came across your blog.
No problem. Thanks for giving your feedback 🙂
Thanks for all the info..if u dun mind i need a bit of your valuable help and guidance in buying land in Alberta or Manitoba or similar areas. The main issue is i am from India. And there will be many laws subject to me buying land out in Canada. Waiting for ur reply. Thanks in Advance !
Hi Manish, thanks for the question. It is much harder for non-Canadians to buy farmland. In Alberta a foreigner can only own up to 20 acres of farmland, and in Manitoba the limit is up to 40 acres. However in British Columbia, there are no restriction on foreign ownership so that’s where I would start looking if I were you. Just keep in mind that since B.C. is open to the world, the demand for farmland will be intense and farmland prices are often 10 to 20 times higher than in Alberta or Saskatchewan.
Thanks for sharing valuable information. can you provide your email, so i can contact for further information.
Thank you. This is useful information, no doubt.
I am going to be that guy though. The last thing career farmers need is foreign investors. It creates problems on several levels. Never encourage it, in regards to investors from outside of the country who are not citizens.
As a career farmer I want to have investors from anywhere. They would have preferred shares that have no votes and they have no names on land titles, fixed rate of return. I would go as high as 25% of land value.. One of our former Sask. cabinet ministers showed us how.. Set up an equipment company that leases the equipment to a farmer cheap.. A harvester company that has a new combine, grain cart and tractor, and a semi and 45 tonne trailer or two.. Only used by that farmer. New about a $1 million investment to last 20 years..
The current land restrictions an investment killer that other industries don’t have. Sask machinery companies have been purchased by non Canadian companies. Almost applauded by government as outside investment..
We can change the land ownership so we can have partnerships with the local farmers that always have 60%+ of control. I do have a problem with 100% of a land package with non citizen but a non controlling amount no problem.. The big do not need to get any bigger..
We should have restrictions on farm sizes to a max of 20 to 25 sections.. (16000 ac Max)
David from NB here, really enjoying your blog. Curious, is any of your farmland affected by the current flooding in Sask & Man? If so will it affect your income, or are you in rental contract with farmers?
Hi David, nice to have readers from the Maritimes 🙂 Saskatchewan won’t be declaring a provincial state of emergency as Manitoba did last week. However certain areas within SK are hit pretty hard and some communities had to evacuate.
As for my farms, yes the crops on it this year have been damaged by the excess rain. I’m not sure how much my tenant can salvage in the fall but it won’t be a full harvest like last year. So far the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation is still calculating the estimated damage to farmers’ fields.
Lucky for me I will still be paid the full $10K rent for 2014 because the lease agreement stands regardless of natural disasters. The tenant currently farming my land should be okay as well. All farmers have government insurance so the worst case scenario for him is the government will pay him the average of what he made on that farmland in the last few years.
I am a real estate agent in south western Ont. with Deerbrook Realty and have about 5000 acres that can be purchased and most of it can be purchased with farmers leasing it back contact me at email@example.com
Very intriguing post – your farmland investment definitely piques my interest.
I’d like to know how you found your tenant..
Any further info will be greatly appreciated 🙂
Luckily for me the tenant I currently have was already renting the farm from the previous owner so I simply just renewed the lease agreement with him. 🙂 Otherwise I would probably turn to local ads or craigslist to try and find a tenant.
Many thanks for very useful post , I have report about investing in farmland that mention acre price between $1300 to 1350 in year 2013 in Peace River North, BRITISH COLUMBIA. Do you have idea about this area and weather? I am from Egypt, non-Canadians so I can buy any space there,
Also do you have any link in Peace River North of real estate agent ?
Peace River North is fairly high up. Sorry, I’m not familiar with that part of B.C. But in the Okanagan Valley some farmlands were valued at $50,000 per acre. Farmland is similar to the residential real estate market; it’s very local and circumstances vary widely across the land.
My name is John Miller, i owned and operate a construction Company over here in my Country. However, i am seeking to make an investment with you in your Country.
I am seeking to invest into either in wholesale, Single/Multi Family, turnkey rentals and fix & flip real estate properties, or any other lucrative project Investment.
However, i am seeking to partner with you, as i am willing to provide the required Funding for the investment and also be a silent investor/partner.
I am seeking to invest the sum US$5,700,000.00 US Dollars only for a period of 4 years in partnership whereby i will provide the required Funding.
If you are in agreement with me, please get back to me so we may discuss further.
I am interested, kindly write to my private mail at:
i await your reply . Thanks
Very interesting site. Saskatchewan farmland has been very profitable.
Montgomery triangle is awesome
Did you just buy your land blindly or having determined productivity beforehand? Where/how did you get the soil classification data?
I found out about the land’s productivity beforehand as part of my research. A color-coded map that shows the soil classification can be found near the top of my other article, which describes my first farmland purchase.
The dark grey (or black) area of that map narrows down my search location. Dark grey soil is usually the best because it contains a lot of loam and holds moisture well. I don’t want to be looking for farms outside of that region. Dark brown region on that map is not bad either. The poorest quality land is often represented by the light brown and light grey areas.
But even among dark grey soil there is varying degrees of quality. The term for categorizing land by its productivity is called the crop insurance rating. This is typically a letter, with A being the most fertile. Sometimes the description in the farmland listing on the MLS website will have this information. If it doesn’t you can contact the listing agent or your own realtor, if you’re working with one, to determine the letter rating. Real estate agents have special access to Saskatchewan’s online matrix of property details that most people can’t get to. For my farms I simply asked my realtor to find out more information about the land and he either asked the other realtor who listed the farms or looked it up in the matrix.
I personally only look for farmland with soil quality above a crop insurance rating of G. My current farms are F and G. The better quality land the more price per acre it will cost.
All that said, I haven’t yet seen my farms with my own eyes yet. I’ve only seen pictures sent to me by my real estate agent and I’ve seen aerial pictures using Google Maps.
How do you find renters for your farmland and how do manage those tenants? Thanks!
If there wasn’t already a tenant on the farm I would reach out to real estate agents and brokers in the area, and give them a cut of the first year’s rent for helping me find a suitable tenant. Once a lease agreement is signed there’s no need to manage them. The first half of the money is paid up front. If they don’t pay I can rent the land to someone else. There’s no maintenance upkeep or damages to worry about either since there’s only dirt there.
To know more about land investment I think you should visit this site: themarutigroup.com
I have inherited part of the family farm in Sask and the original farmer renting the land is now retiring and his son is taking over. We have never had any formal agreement to this point and they would like to do a 1/3 crop share for this year and then go to a cash rental for the next 3-5 at $35-40/acre. I believe I should have an agreement in writing but don’t know where I should start. There are some examples on the interent but I’m not sure if this is what I need. Do you have any suggestions on this?
Hi Delores. You can download a template of a simple cash rental agreement here. 🙂 https://www.freedomthirtyfiveblog.com/media/docs/Sample%20Cash%20Lease%20Agreement.pdf
It’s good to have something in writing just in case. It’s not so much about trust or worrying they other party won’t hold up their end of the bargain. But it’s more about protecting both the landlord and tenant in case something unexpected comes up like tragedy or emergency situations.
Sask farmland has and will continue to be very profitable. Just compare the price per acre there with the prices in Alberta.
South Montgomery is getting a Tim Hortons, that is the Montgomery triangle. The Golden triangle is the Montgomery triangle
Western Canada is doing pretty well these days. 🙂
Montgomery triangle is getting the first Carl’s junior to be built in Canada. Montgomery and Calgary are great. My group makes money on Sask farmland and then we invest in Montgomery Calgary.
Montgomery triangle is awesome
I am selling some farmland. Has a renter for 2015. Asking $800 per acre.
Where is your farmland? Details?
I’m curious as to how much work is involved for owning farmland. How often do you have to go out there and check things out. What about insurance, maintaince. What if a farm building requires fixing? Do you have to pay for that?
Not much work is involved as long as you pick a farm that’s pure land and no buildings on it. 🙂 I’ve been out to Saskatchewan once to do some research, talk to some farmland brokers, and get an idea of what I should buy as a long distance owner. But I’ve never actually seen the farms I purchased. I just saw pictures taken by my real estate agent and made my decision to buy based on that and some other beneficial qualities like high crop insurance rating and absorbent soil.
No insurance is required on farmland for the owner because dirt can’t really be damaged. But the tenant that farms the land buys insurance for his crops in case of pests, flood, or other unfortunate situations.
No need to hire someone for maintenance either except if a fence breaks or something, but there are no fences on my farmland to begin with.
The nice thing about direct farmland investing is you can choose to be hands on and even work together with the tenant to maximize crop production, buy granary, or silos to store crops, or buy a farm with a shed or barn already on it to house livestock if you choose. Or you can also buy a passive piece of property that’s just land and just collect the cheques from farmers who want to use your land for their business. And of course there’s everything in between, so it’s a very flexible asset class to own. 🙂
Thanks for the information, I maybe consider investing in some farmland in the future. 🙂 You’re doing a great job with this site!
I gain knolege about agri land invest
i farmer in india how can i by ag land. Inscechwan or manotoba
i have visitor visa 10 yer
send me your email address so that I can contact you direct and share more ideas with you. Thanks
I’m considering farmland purchase, there are some farms with oil wells on them which increases the return on investment, is there any risks because of them in future, most have long term leases.
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Good job Liquid. Being inclined for farmland just googled n found this blog. thx lots of info. will visit in routine. *cmj*
Great advice to consider before purchasing farmland. It’s important to realize the amount of work that will need to go into it. It’s not just buying land and living on a ‘farm’. Thanks for sharing.
All true! I bought my first quarter 6 years ago in saskatchewan. However I will be selling my farm land now to buy a house. So if anyone is interested in 320 acres or just 160 acres I’m asking 1800 per seeded acre. Just a half mile away from my place some sold for 2000 an acre this last year!
WE wants to purchase 50 acres for crops. Please tell me best crops of land .
Mail id : firstname.lastname@example.org
Almost all the RMs have bylaws to keep the land to 80 acres packages. The exception is a city RM that will allow smaller sizes but the city would be purchasing or plans it to sub divide for city lots. Not for farms..
Excellent information. I have been invested in the stock market (US) since 2009 and have made some great gains. I feel the bull market has run for over 6 years now and may be due for a pause anytime over the next year or so. I am really giving serious thought to moving into Saskechewan farmland. I have cash say 200k; can anyone tell me how much land can I buy? I am a Canadian citizen.
If you are looking in Saskatchewan, then that amount of money can buy you a decent plot of farmland that is 1 quarter in size, or 160 acres. It won’t be premium land, but it’ll be good enough to grow your typical SK crops like wheat and barley. Have a look at mls.ca or agent websites to search for current listings. For example, if you prefer to buy something around Yorkton, SK then you can check out remax-bluechip-yorkton-sk.ca/listings/farm. I’m not affiliated with them. Looking up “Saskatchewan farmland for sale” in a search engine such as Google or Bing will also turn up many results for you. As a general rule I like to deal with real estate companies that have at least some kind of brand recognition like Remax, Royal LePage, Century 21, Exit, etc.
An excellent blog and thankful for all the information.
My wife and I just arrived from viewing a quater section here in Alberta but the price per acre is about $10000. It is currently planted with Alfalfa and it comes with a 1100 ft2 house and a metal storagare barn. This propety is closer to city boundary that make its cost way high at the moment.
We are thinking of selling our current residence to use partly in paying the cost of the property and maybe to live there in the farm since we’re both nearing retirement. Our main reason in buying this property is for future investment since we have a son and a daughter whom we are thinking to assume the ownerehsip of this property when we’re gone.
Could you please send us more information about the financial institutions or mortgagge brokers where we can apply for a mortgage on top of the 25% we have to find these days rather than selling our main residence right now.
Also, since we haven’t done any farming and really new to these, how did you find tenants who rented or lease your farm and acreage for farming? Normally for approximately 140 acres of Alfalfa land how much do they pay as rental? If we live in the acreage property is it advisable to stay there privately just to monitor the farming activities and at the same time cutltivate a hobby garden during summer time? We’re Canadian citizens and had bee in Canada for over 40 years but totally new to actual Canadian farming and investing.
Hey Joben. It’s great to diversify your nest egg and put at least some money into farmland. Instead of selling your current residence another option would be to use it as collateral for a HELOC and take money out that way. I’m not recommending it for you because everyone’s situation is different, but some people might prefer to keep their main residence, maybe rent it out, while they themselves go live on the farm.
The financial institution that brokered my mortgage was TD. They have a product that gave me a 25 year farm loan, which is basically a mortgage. Right now I’m paying 3.4% interest rate on it for a 6 month term. Once the term is up I’ll renew the loan for another set period of time between 6 months to 3 years. For current interest rates you can call any branch and ask to speak with a small business lender or manager and they will answer any other relevant questions you have. I’m not sure if other major banks do this as well, but since the piece of land you looked at has a house on it I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to get a conventional residential mortgage, if not then a commercial mortgage. The last resort for finance is Farm Credit Canada. fcc-fac.ca/en.html They finance farmland, farming equipment, and other agricultural projects. I find their interest rate is a bit higher than the banks though.
As for tenants it’s easier to buy a farm that already has a long term tenant using it. If not, try to lease it back to the owner at first. If that doesn’t work you can ask your realtor/broker or the owner for referrals and offer to pay them a small finders fee like $250 if they find a suitable farmer for you. You can also do the leg work yourself, advertise on the radio or online, spend $50 or $100 on marketing, or use the local classifieds. Since you live there it might worth it to ask around town. I don’t know what the rental rate in Alberta is, but in Saskatchewan you are looking at $30 to $50 per acre for growing alfalfa.
Here’s more information about rental prices, and what to expect as a landlord. https://www.freedomthirtyfiveblog.com/2013/05/frequently-asked-questions-farm-landlord.html
How do you manage the land and how did you do soil testing as part of due diligence before placing an offer?
I’m actually lucky in that I don’t have to manage the land at all. I’ve never been there or seen what my farm looks like yet. One day I’ll go visit it though lol. But for now I basically trust that the tenant is keeping the land in good condition. Since there are no buildings, structures, or fences on my farm there’s not really anything to manage. The farmer grows whatever he wants on it and tells me what he’s seeded and any fertilizers or other sprays he’s used.
I didn’t do any lab testing with the soil. My due diligence on that was pretty basic. I asked my real estate agent at the time to drive over there and inspect the soil himself. He told me it’s pretty good. And I decided to take his word for it. I assumed if the government rated the land an “F” grade, then the soil can’t be that bad anyway. Every farmland quarter will have a crop insurance rating that you can obtain from the Saskatchewan realtor’s portal. Soil graded with higher letters like A and E are excellent, while lower letters like M and O usually contain less nutrients or can hold less moisture.
Still interested in this. Currently am self employed building spec homes, which requires a fair amount of equity to qualify for financing.
I have heard FCC is great for agri loans. Did you meet with them ever?
Thank you for the detailed information. I live in vancouver. I have been thinking of buying agricuture land. I was told by the realtor that it 2500 to 3000 CAD acre. I would have been keen for 1000 to 1500 dollars. I am looking to find someone to grow pulse on the land. Its ideal to have access to transportation as the commodity can be shipped easily.
That’s a cool idea. I hear Canada exports a lot of pulse to India. 🙂 Unfortunately $2500 per acre is kind of expensive for land right now. If you do decide to make the investment having a long term plan will be helpful to spread out the cost of the expensive purchase across multiple years.
Hello, ven, I have 3 quarter section in rm of Craig about 53 km from Moose Jaw and currently have a tenant that grows pulse crop on it, I am asking 1100 dollars acre. Reason for selling is I am retiring
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we are looking for an individual to partner with in British Columbia in the field of agriculture, can you give me contact.
I am interested in investing in Ontario farmlands and lease it, can you suggest a good site where I can search for lands that are for sale.
Thank you, was thinking of investing in Farmlands and couldn’t find any info…thank you for providing this blog.
My business provided a full suite of service for people looking to invest in Saskatchewan farmland. We source, provide due diligence, and have prepared financial models to help potential investors determine the best rate of return on farmland packages. Renterra.ca also has a network of over 5,000 farmers looking to rent land. Land rent can be conducted by auction or tender. If interested, call 306-216-8486.
Hello liquid, my family had been a farming family since long in South Asia but, farming in canada seems different as, here a lot of work could be done with simple tractors or labour was available unlike Sakatchewan.
I am hopefully immigrating to canada (Sakatchewan) on the basis of farming there, can you please guide me a on it,
Some queries are;
1) I may also be working in Calgary myself to supplement my income and I am professionally into aviation so I want to continue working. Can I be living in Calgary and do my farming business in Sakatchewan? My job description would allow me to be atleast 2 days of the week at my farm? Does the government allow you the ownership if you are not living in Sask?
2) any good links or websites that you would suggest that briefly explains living in Sakatchewan and farmin and how is everything done there? Seriously I could not find any easy to understand blog as your in the above matter.
Thanks a lot
As a producer you will not get much done farming wise in 2 days a week with the average size farm in Sask.
Growing season is short. There is only a window of about 120 days max. Frost at both ends.
What are you going to produce in dry land farming is everything. Most net profit per ac is under $150.
Sask Ag has cost of production spreadsheets for almost all field crops.
Some veg growers can produce more but they need to be near major water supplies.
Thanks Gerald, you seem to be having acute knowledge.
Over here we have canal irrigation system, complimented with tube wells so almost all the acquired land can be cultivated, it seems that’s not the case in sask?
And if someone starts from a scratch and may not be investing in machinery, is the sowing and reaping possibly done by hired machines with ease without undue overcharges?
There is a bit of irrigation in the Outlook area and those that have access to it most likely will hold on to the land. Or they will be asking many 1000’s of dollars /ac for their farms. I know one operator in that area that should write a book on their operation with the center pivots.. I remember some tubes from canals from an class but that is not the case here, vary labour intensive I bet.. Here, big acres, big pivots, few people. 1/4 sections and full sections I think.. The sewage irrigation in the Moose Jaw area I think are quarter sections, center pivot. Remotely started. I have not seen a person around them in operation..
Remember Sask is very much dry land farming. Total rain and snow fall ranging in the south of 12″ to the northern areas of only 18″ long term average. There is little water around with the exception of the Sask river valley systems and you will have to have permits to use the water from Sask Water authority. Yes there is water around currently in little lakes or sloughs but it can dry up quick.. Hard to use.
Getting custom work on your land can be done but remember your crop acres are the last done by the custom farmers. They will do yours after their stuff is done. I still am missing one piece of equipment so I have to wait for my custom operator and I have paid the price in production.. If you are in an area that the farmers are nearly maxed out for time, you might not find an operator. Sask Ag has yearly custom rates/ rental guide numbers. Budget for equipment $350k-400k/1000 acres if you are very good at fixing equipment and that would be nearly worn out gear. I know but running out of “Scotty” saves and salvages..
Most farm operators have a spring spray pre-burn off of weeds, seed, then maybe 1 or 2 spray passes during the growing season for weeds and/or pests. One kill spray on the legumes for harvest. Again the timing of harvesting may or may not be done on your time table so you will risk a loss. If you have canola, you most likely will have to swath, which will lead to a dry down time. Each field can be different and it has to fit your operator’s time table and the local weather.
Remember there is more that just seeding and harvesting operations here.. (canola, wheat, legume, flax production models) Cannot speak of other crop models outside of these. I also assume that you will have grain storage and handling systems of some sort to start with before you start even custom operations.. You can not count on hauling to the buyer unless you have contracts and they will tell you
when they want it. Lowest prices are in the fall and winter with better prices in spring and summer. You
store it and hope it does not spoil..
There are no full service custom operator’s that I know of in the Moose Jaw area that are not farmer’s too.
There are a few custom sprayers (mostly airplane) and swathing. There once was companies that only did custom combining. They started in the southern states and moved north and would finish in Northern
Sask. There was some legal issues south of the border and they stopped I think.
My 2 cents
If you want to chat.. firstname.lastname@example.org but don’t expect quick answers during farming season, and it is coming up soon..
Is there a option of investing in Agrifood by getting minimum 1/3 stake in a existing running farm in BC. Would like to use this vehicle to migrate to Canada.
I am planning to buy my first farmland in SK.
I would like to chat with you to know your experience etc if you have few minutes..
Let me know.
Sure Anandji, email@example.com send your number will call you. Tks.
why are agricultural land leases cheaper than residential land leases
Thank you for sharing this very valuable information. I am also thinking of investing in farmland as I also see it as a great investment opportunity for future for various reasons.
I have one question, I have no experience/qualification in assessing the quality of the soil and many of the technical aspects that are required to ensure the land and the soil are fertile and good for farming? At the end of the day one can expect to make favourable returns if the farmer that is going to rent and work on the land is able to grow and harvest good quantity and quality crops.
Thank you in advance and looking forward to hearing your valuable thoughts and information.
As a farmer looking for capital for our farm corp, why are you not investing in the farmers not the land. The land is only as good as the producers in the area that want to rent it. I know that in some areas, there are so few farmers, they are maxed out for acres and don’t want any more land.
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I have 20acers farm in PAITHAN, aurangabad, Maharashtra,India.
Looking for rent or business in partnership.
When you purchased your Saskatchewan farm land were you also able to get the mineral rights? If not, how much would these rights have affected the purchase price?
My understanding in Saskatchewan we (farmers) have only surface rights. Very few areas on the southeast side of the province might have mineral rights. I heard of one farm family that did have mineral rights, sold the farm land and kept the oil money (in the 1980’s).. All the mining and oil companies in Sask. pay royalties to the crown (province) so that leads me to think the crown has the mineral rights..
….in regard to my question above..as understand, there are portions on “Crown” land throughout the province that are govt owned for various reasons. Other land owned by private individuals will include both surface and mineral rights owned by them. However both sets of rights can be owned by different parties not the govt. This in turn makes the obtaining of mineral rights in SE Sask very desirable because of the proximity to the Bakken oil formation. So my question is: how much do the mineral rights affect land prices in this area? Given the fact that the oil frenzy and production in scaling back, what are the mineral rights worth?.
The people to ask about mineral rights would be land titles office on a parcel of land. Being south central, outside Bakken oil area, I know of nobody asking about mineral rights for a farm management question of what is land worth. That becomes the question of are we being miners, which most of us are not geology trained attempt to evaluate what is a few thousand feet down under us..
If my family knowledge of being in the area for over 100 years goes, the farmlands are surface right only.. I sort of remember a comment/story that the crown sent out people just after the formation of the province to get the farmers/ranchers to sign over the mineral rights to the crown. I have just done a land transfer (in family), and was very clear in the documentation that surface rights only.
I did a bit of digging economy.gov.sk.ca/MinRights which kind of confirms my thinking..
Land title searching..
some other websites :
If the area was farmed before 1870’s there might be mineral rights. Only about 21% of the surveyed land is not held by the crown..
….this is how I’ve been led to understand the process by individuals that do own land in SE Sask…anyway..just curious. Regards….
I am interested in baying 1 quarter of land in SE Saskaswan as an investment , I want to be able to crop share with the farmer , can you give me any leads where I can start looking .
Here is some links..
agriculture.gov.sk.ca/AV_Dec07_11 (I know both author’s personally)
The max you would get is about 1/3 most likely 20-25%. If you share the expenses of your crop you could get as high as 40% but that will mean you will have to put out 40% of the production expenses (Chem/fert/seed/insurance). I have done that in the past. That is cash out of your pocket. Remember also that marketing of grain can take up to a 14 months after you put it in the ground.
It is past Mar 31 so crop insurance deadline is passed and the crops are set for the year.
It is getting busy for me now. email@example.com if you have more questions but it will be a few days
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greatiful information Liquid,Gerald
please a big favor needed on this.we and our parents have big farms in africa and have decided to relocate in canada we have done some few research but we are looking for someone to guide us through purchasing,laws(realtor,lawyer) if you have anyone experience with a foreign farm investor will be better thank in advanced
There will be a big difference between Africa weather wise and what you know and Sask/Western Canada/Canada. We have a cold season. What is your operation in Africa? Plants and Animals? There is some investment rules for immigration that fast track you in. I am not a guide or realtor. It is business and you will have to have a plan. Grain farming, today 1/6 of your investment might be equipment and for a small operation of 1000 acres budget $400k+ of used equipment, maybe $2m for land.. Depends where you are setting up.. In Sask you will have to be a landed immigrant/ Canadian to purchase the land. So you would have to be here for 3 or 4 years.. Not sure of other provinces.. I have heard of other farmers coming from England and setting up but not sure where in Sask. If you plan a phase in or working contract work with other operators in your landing area, it might work for you.. Have you been to Canada? Plan a tour of some kind.. My 2cents as a quick comment.
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First off, what a great post this is. I really enjoyed it! I currently work in the financial world of asset management, where I have the pleasure of waking up every day to invest other people’s money.
I was born and raised on a dairy farm in rural New Brunswick and spent every summer driving a tractor for my dad. I’ve spent countless hours trying to mentally connect the world of investing with the world of farming, which is something that you’ve clearly executed with tremendous success.
Here’s a question for you. With all of the implications of climate change (droughts come to mind), do these pose any concerns to you with regard to this portion of your investment portfolio?
Thanks again Liquid
Hey FC, I don’t see climate change as a big concern for my farmland investment. If a drought were to occur in Canada it would probably start on the outskirts of the prairies so my farms are situated in a good location. Drought has been slowly occurring in parts of Ontario and Manitoba over the past decades permanently degrading the quality of soil or in some cases have made land unfarmable. But Yorkton SK is looking pretty good. In fact, the price of land around my area should increase as the total amount of arable land in Canada decreases. I have the same sentiment in regards to the risk of flooding. These issues around weather and climate will always be there, but I assume it won’t harm the long term value of my land in a significant way. 🙂
Would love to know your view on the conventional farming that uses fertilizers & pesticides that deteriorate the soil quality over time. I mean that is a serious problem in many countries and is not uncommon in Canada as well. There was recently a United Nations desertification impact summit. Would that impact the value of farmland in the long run in SK. Moreover the renters just look for their gain and not work on sustaining or improving the soil health.
I don’t know much about growing crops, but I’ve heard conventional farming does tend to reduce the quality of soil. Some farmers like to rotate their crops, or use summer fallow to build up ground moisture and nutrients. 🙂 But there is less incentive to take care of the land if farmers are simply renting it. Much like residential properties, renters usually don’t care about the building as much as owners do. This is a problem in the long run which is why I don’t plan to hold onto my farmland for much longer. It requires time, effort, and money to maintain the soil over time and I simply don’t have the means to do that right now. By selling my farmland I can use the money to buy urban property in the city.
I think the U.N. reports are worth paying attention to, but I would take them with a grain of salt because it’s hard to differentiate science and politics when it comes to climate change. Plus, even if they have pure intentions scientists can often be wrong. Here’s a past prediction from the U.N. that hasn’t aged well.
I don’t put a lot of weight into scientist predictions. But following historical trends and making up my own conclusions is a better way to plan for future outcomes. In terms of desertification, I do believe it is a real threat because agricultural land in Canada has been shrinking for many years now. And that’s another reason for me to not hold onto my farmland for too long. Ironically I think there’s an opportunity to make a lot of money in agriculture. If cultivated acreage in Canada is shrinking, then it’s possible for smart and innovative farmers to corner the market. If the supply of land is shrinking, and the population is growing, you could potentially make a lot of money if you’re more efficient with your production than other farmers. But farming isn’t in my circle of competence. So I’m going to take some advice from Warren Buffett and get out before something unfavorable happens to my investment, lol.
Very informative article, thank you. The prices per square acre in a country like Ukraine pay huge dividends when compared to a country like Canada, however, the risk on investment has a much steeper curve. It would be interesting to see someone do a cost analysis comparison for this Canadian living in Ukraine, I would find it very interesting. A good source of information investinukraine.info
Re: farmland investing, did you have to pay more tax since you are not a farmer?
I will appreciate your response.
I didn’t pay any tax when acquiring the land because I have a GST number. But when I sell the farm later then I will pay capital gains tax because I’m not a farmer.
But if I was an actual farmer then I would benefit from up to $800,000 of capital gains exemption. Even if the property was farmed by my spouse, common-law partner, child or parent I will be able to access this exemption. So for example, if a farmer bought farmland in 2010, and sold it in 2020 for $500,000 more, then he or she does not have to pay capital gains tax at all.
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I prefer the idea of finding a professional partner, one who has the expert knowledge of farming but wants a partner to scale up their operation. How does one find a farmer partner?
Are you looking for a farmer?
There are no experts as farmers, every farm has different soil makeup and history.
A neighbour farmer (30yrs+farming) has said to me that he use to think good farmer had good management skill but
now it more good luck than management. Weather is our biggest variable that we don’t control.
What area of the country are you looking to invest in? Big differences in farmland, prices and practices across Canada. Would be able to help with information about Ontario.
I’m looking for invest into farmland in Western Ontario and rent it out. However, i know very little about farming. Can you recommend some resources? Specifically, I need to know how to find contacts for renting out the land. Thanks!
I know a website that gives a free land giveaway. You can visit at gokcecapital.com/. Thanks – Cheryl
Hi! I own several quarter-sections of land in southern Alberta. I rent this land out to other to farm their crops. Our rental contracts are about to expire and I was wondering if there is someone or an organization that can tell me what a fair rental value would be for me and for my renters? Any help would be appreciated.
There where FCC workshops on this matter but I think they are over for the year. Check the FCC site if they have a summary of the seminar. How good of a relationship with your renters? You are paying the property taxes? If you charge to much, most likely you remove the incentive of taking care of the land. If you want some risk then go into a crop share deal. About 25% is a max. 1/3 2/3 share cropping with shared direct costs of putting in a crop works too.
I am a farmer too and will be changing my rates before the end of March. I have not taking over all of our land yet.
I hope to have 1/3 or 25% this year. Are you trying to improve the asset’s value by soil building practices by your renters? Are rocks being removed?
Some Government Ag reps might have heard of the deals but most farmers now keep the cards close their chests..
Thank you. This is useful information, no doubt.
I am going to be that guy though. The last thing career farmers need is foreign investors. It creates problems on several levels. Never encourage it, regarding investors from outside of the country.
Well I have not found Canadian investors wanting to invest in the farmland. Rich Canadians are greedy want to own your land, wanting control not a part of the pie. I want to sell shares of our farmland to raise capital and avoid the banks. So going for outside money is ok in my books if the money is there.
I think you’ve misrepresented how much producers actually make off their land. You say “farmers in Canada make pretty good money” but looking at the Stats Canada table you provided most of their income comes from jobs off the farm, and their inputs eat up most of the profits from the farm itself.
I would have to agree with Leanne that good money comes from the off farm income. The big sized farms that are over 10000 acres are making some money on scale. Smaller units not much more than break even.
First time reader here – thanks a lot for the amazing read! Very informative and love your style of writing. Will definitely be around for more, especially for the farmland investing articles 🙂
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Personally I’ve found that a lot of these steps can be cut or made simpler by using a crowdfunded investment platform. I’ve been using FarmTogether and I’ve found that makes the process a whole lot easier!
It’s a nice article. I’ve been reading a lot of buying land. This is really helpful. Keep up the good work! Btw check out this awesome free land giveaway promotion I found at gokcecapital.com
I noticed your Article. I just loved it.
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You’ve provided some useful information for those looking to invest in farmland. I grew up in rural Saskatchewan and started farming at 19. After 40 years, I went into wakawlakerealestate.ca. If you or any of your readers need a contact in this area, feel free to reach out to me.
you have provided some very useful information on farm investing.
I’m trying to research a comprehensive list of farmland fund managers – focus on US, Canada, SA and Australia. Any additions or thoughts on this so far would be appreciated:
Farmland LP (REIT)
TIAA / Nuveen
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Hey Liquid, thanks for the post, it was extremely informative. Could you also share a bit about your process of finding a tenant? Any pitfalls or things to look out for? Presume you have done it through a real estate agent?