While Saskatchewan rural residents continue to decamp for the city, according to the latest Census numbers, the value of their farms is increasing faster than anywhere else in the country.The rural exodus has been ongoing for years in the province, but according to Farm Credit Canada, Saskatchewan farmland values increased an average of 11.6 per cent during the first half of 2011, the highest average increase across Canada. This followed gains of 2.7 per cent and 2.9 per cent in the two previous reporting periods.
Values increased by an average of nearly 2 per cent per month between January 1 and June 30, 2011, the Farm Credit survey found.
"Demand significantly exceeded supply, as land in Saskatchewan is considered a safe investment and is currently providing a solid return," the report states, adding that low interest rates have also helped boost sales.
The largest price increases occurred in the northwest and southeast areas of the province, which experienced good crops and strong commodity prices in the fall of 2010. Factors impacting this increase included out-of-province farmers relocating to Saskatchewan to purchase competitively priced farmland, larger local producers expanding their land base, the oil and gas influence (especially in the Bakken oilfield), and continued demand for heavy clay soils.
Saskatchewan saw record-setting growth over the past five years, according to the Cenus, with the increase in population of 65,224 the highest since Statistics Canada began tracking population trends in 1956. The province's population was 1,063, 535 as of October of last year, the first time it has broken the one million barrier since 1986.
All the growth is in the urban areas. Rural municipalities saw an overall population drop of .9 per cent, while villages fell 9 per cent. According to the Census, Saskatoon grew 9.8 per cent, increasing to 222,189; Regina was up 7.7 per cent to 193,100; Prince Albert grew by 1,002 to 35,129; and Moose Jaw's population increased by 1,142 to 33,274.