CROPPING

Farm land prices enter 'new phase'

FARM land prices may stagnate soon according to a recently-released report from Rabobank.

Staff writer
 Rabobank says farm land prices may be in for a correction. Picture Mark Saunders.

Rabobank says farm land prices may be in for a correction. Picture Mark Saunders.

In its annual Australian Agricultural Land Price Outlook (supported by Digital Agriculture Services), Rabobank says the robust growth in agricultural property prices witnessed over the past five years has slowed, with 2020 signalling "the beginning of a new phase in land markets across the country".

Report author, Rabobank agricultural analyst Wes Lefroy, said already there had been lower agricultural land price growth in 2019 than in the previous two years.

"For the time being, the aggressive rise in land prices is behind us, and we are expecting a period of low, if any, growth in 2020. Ultimately though, this will vary by quality, region and production type," Lefroy said.

While there will likely still be a number of "marquee" sales in some locations - especially for high-rainfall properties with scale - median agricultural property prices in some regions may even see a contraction over the coming 18 months, the report says.

However, macro-economic factors, such as low interest rates and a forecast weakening in the Australian dollar - along with the overall healthy state of farm balance sheets across the country - will prevent a major downward correction.

"And if agricultural land prices can hold the significant gains they have made over the past five years in the year ahead, through the worst economic crisis we are facing in decades due to the coronavirus pandemic, this will be a great result for landholders," Lefroy said.

For buyers of agricultural land, he said, "the story is a very complicated one", with different market segments in different locations moving at varying speeds - driven by factors other than just agricultural productivity - so that prices are often not reflective of the productive potential of the land.

"The median price in some regions can be double, or even triple, that of other regions with similar productivity and seasonal variability," he said.

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