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Canterbury -


Rural Update April 2024

Rural landowners throughout Canterbury, have been watching the actions of the new coalition government closely this year, as it quickly goes about repealing much of the previously implemented legislation.


The National-led coalition government has pledged to reduce the levels of bureaucracy from ‘grassroots’ business. This has been received favourably by the rural community as generally, farmers know what is in the best interest of their land-based businesses, and the primary sector activity they are involved in.

This commitment has seen the introduction of several reforms aimed at fostering a more practical, sustainable, and farmer-friendly environment. While some changes are already in motion, the agricultural community remains cautiously optimistic about the government's commitment to seeing them through.

Anything that makes farming easier is always welcomed by those in the sector across Canterbury. These promises and reforms include:

  • A commitment to redefining the rules surrounding culverts and wetlands – tightening the definition of wetlands to encompass only those areas with significant environmental value, thereby avoiding restrictions on farmers while still promoting environmental conservation
  • Adjusting stock exclusion rules - striking the right balance between environmental protection and agricultural viability
  • Deferring resource consents for winter grazing to acknowledge regional variations in land use – a critical point for many Canterbury farming operations that rely on substantial irrigation infrastructure for pasture watering
  • The re-introduction of live cattle exports
  • Repealing the Three Waters framework – returning ownership and control of water assets to local councils – underpinning the government's approach that decisions about essential resources should be made at the appropriate community level.

For investors and hands-on farmers scaling up their investment in the Canterbury region’s rural real estate sector, this approach by the government provides greater confidence to buy, and the Bayleys Canterbury Country sales team is certainly hearing this sentiment being echoed often amongst the clients we are talking with every week.

The latest REINZ sales data gives some national perspective on land values in the current environment. While those values aren’t specifically broken down into regional comparisons, it is worth noting that the fertile soils of Canterbury, the Waikato, and Taranaki, traditionally sit well above countrywide stats.

With that indicative guideline in mind, the latest national REINZ data released notes that:

  • For dairy farms, the median sales price per hectare in the three months ending January 2024 was $41,540 from the sale of 43 properties
  • For finishing farms, the median sales price per hectare in the three months ending January 2024 was $35,060 from the sale of 69 properties
  • For grazing farms, the median sales price per hectare in the three months ending January 2024 was $14,120 from the sale of 55 properties. This compares with $13,080 for the same period in 2022/2023 – representing an eight percent increase in the median price per hectare for grazing farms
  • For horticulture farms, the median sales price per hectare in the three months ending January 2024 was $227,660 from the sale of nine properties.

Land values are of course calculated from the level of return generated from primary produce production. Briefly reviewing what has been happening in Canterbury’s rural productive sector lately – we have seen that dairy prices are continuing to improve month by month, predominantly underscored by butter and whole milk prices improving during the Northern Hemisphere winter.

Beef meat prices lifted marginally, lamb meat prices dropped slightly due to slower demand from China, while there were small gains in wool prices.

ASB’s recent commodities analysis produced in February notes that with the end of the production season approaching, earnings are still on track for a farmgate price at or close to $8 per kilogramme of milk solids.

“Prices look to have a reasonable degree of momentum as we finish up the 2023/24 season and the dairy sector shifts the focus to 2024/25,” the ASB forecasts. “The prevailing dairy supply/demand balance looks sufficient for prices to retain reasonable support. All of this points to another season where the farmgate milk price is above its ten-year average of circa $7 per kilogramme of milk solids.”

Just like buyers and vendors, the Bayleys Canterbury Country sales team closely monitors all economic and social factors involved with the rural production sector as it relates to real estate, and we are always happy to share our data, knowledge, and insight, with those looking to undertake a real estate transaction. Please feel free to give us a call any time and we’d be happy to swap observations.

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