Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

The average price per hectare of Australia’s broadacre farmland increased by 131% over the last 10 years, according to the latest data from the ABARES Farmland Price Indicator. But farmland in the North West Slopes and Plains increased 178% – or nearly tripled – just last year.

The Farmland Price Indicator provides valuable insight into Australian broadacre farmland prices, to ensure farming businesses can make educated decisions on their farmland assets. Last week’s release updates the ABARES Farmland Price Indicator with the latest data, quarterly estimates at the national level, and a new set of detailed regional estimates.

ABARES Executive Director Dr Jared Greenville said a relatively flat 2023 for farmland prices capped a decade of strong price growth.

“Over the 10 years to 2023, broadacre farmland prices went from $4,088 to $9,429 per hectare,” Dr Greenville said.

“Australian broadacre farmland values reached $9,576/ha in 2022 but declined slightly by 1.5% on average through 2023.

“The slight fall in 2023 contrasts with strong price growth over the past decade, where prices grew at an average annual rate of 10.09%.

Farmland in the Northern Tablelands had a big surge in 2021, in line with the sudden jump in residential homes the same year as the Covid refugees moved out of the city and in to our beautiful hill country. In 2020, buyers were paying $8097/ha in the Tablelands. That jumped to $12,114/ha in 2021, slightly higher again in 2022 to $12,677/ha, before settling slightly in 2023 to $11,542/ha.

The same increase was not seen in the neighbouring Slopes and Plains – until 2023. Despite solid demand for lifestyle blocks, farmland prices were stubbornly consistent for the start of the decade, $4666/ha in 2020, $4553/ha in 2021, and $4783/ha in 2022.

Last year’s price? $13,120/ha.

No, that’s not a typo. But it is a number to be taken with a grain of salt.

A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said there were only a small number of broadacre transactions in the North West Slopes and Plains region in 2023 and a high proportion of the transactions were for expensive farmland. This generated the unusually high results from a statistical perspective.

“The estimates simply reflect what has occurred in the market – which is that, for the given region in 2023, most of the broadacre farms sold were expensive.

“The data does show significant variation, so there were also some relatively inexpensive farms sold.

“These regional level estimates should be interpreted with caution, particularly when the number of transactions is low.

“It is safer to follow a long run average annual growth rate, which from 1992 to 2023 for the North West Slopes and Plains is 6.67%.”

The expensive farms distorting this years’ figure were apparently sold around the Tamworth end of the region.

We asked a number of local farmers what they thought of people paying $13,120/ha in the North West Slopes and Plains. All of them gave very colourful replies, but none of them were prepared to go on the record, lest they offend their new neighbours.

Some cautiously suggested that the return to water buybacks might be part of an explanation for high farmland property prices, as the increased water price flows through to the value of the property. The Department confirmed that if the water rights are amalgamated in the property price, then they would be included in the estimates.

The latest farmland price estimates can be accessed by anyone through ABARES Farmland Price Indicator online tool.

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