War in Ukraine cools Belgian farmland market

In the first half of 2022, the average price for agricultural land in Belgium increased by 0.5 percent compared to 2021. In Flanders, it is an increase of 1.5 percent, in Wallonia a decrease of 1.4 percent. This is evident from the figures of the Agricultural Barometer of the Federation of Notaries (Fednot). Partly due to the war in Ukraine, the price of agricultural land has risen less quickly than in recent years.

"As with other types of real estate, the period of strong price increases seems to be behind us for the time being. The war in Ukraine is also causing uncertainty in agriculture, causing the market for agricultural land to cool down somewhat," says Bart van Opstal, spokesperson for Notaris.be.

The price increase this year is therefore less than in recent years. Although the average price for agricultural land in Belgium is 53,193 euro per hectare, there are strong regional differences. For example, in French-speaking Belgium agricultural land costs on average 37,011 euro, while in Flanders it costs 63,105 euro per hectare.

Regional differences

The regional price differences have only widened in recent years. In 2017, the price difference between Flanders and Wallonia was still 20,728 euro, today it is about 26,000 euro. In the past five years, the average price per hectare of agricultural land has increased by 23 percent. Taking inflation into account, the real price increase is 7.5 percent.

Also between provinces and municipalities prices continue to vary widely. Agricultural land is most expensive in the province of West Flanders, where the price per hectare averages more than 77,000 euro. In the province of Liège, on the other hand, the price is usually just under 35,000 euro. The average area of agricultural land is the largest in West Flanders at 1.9 hectares, while in Flemish Brabant and Limburg it is only 0.5 and 0.6 hectares respectively.

Cultivation plan

The war in Ukraine and the impending shortage of cereals also had an impact on the cultivation plan of Flemish farmers. A few months ago, there was much speculation in the media about the potential of summer cereals. Theo Francken (N-VA), for instance, suggested to then Agriculture minister Hilde Crevits (CD&V) to call on farmers to sow spring wheat.

Spring wheat is a very small crop in Flanders because yields are lower than those of winter wheat. The crop is also very weather dependent. Nevertheless, the available seed for spring wheat was quickly sold out this year. In addition, there was a remarkable increase in grain maize. It is likely that the war in Ukraine will encourage Belgian farmers to opt more for wheat and grain maize after the summer.



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