A Place of Their Own
Submitted by Editor on Fri, 11/27/2009 – 11:40am.
Falling Land Prices —
Good News for Young Farmers
For Full Article, Go to Lancaster Farming
GROVE HILL, Va. — The first order of business at the new Foltz farm was mowing the pasture, overgrown after a few years of neglect. From the sloping field, there is a clear view south to the fading red barn (also needs some work) and the flat bottomland beside the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. The Foltzes — a full-time Page County farming family — will put most of the new 170-acre spread in alfalfa; horse owners buy it by the small square bale as fast as it will grow.
When the farm was listed for sale, the Foltzes, whose main farm lies just north of the new one, were interested but they didn’t expect they’d be able to afford the whole thing.
“We thought we could buy 50 acres,” said Brad Foltz, one of three brothers now farming with their father, Paul.
A couple years ago, he probably would have been right. In 2006, at the height of the real estate bubble, farm land in the Shenandoah Valley routinely sold for more than $10,000 per acre — well beyond affordability for most working farmers. But real estate isn’t moving in 2009 like it was in 2006, and after a few rounds of offers and counter-offers, the Foltzes closed on their new farm in the fall, settling on a price of around $4,300 per acre.
A decrease in land prices is good news for young farmers like Brad Foltz, 28, who’s worked full-time on the farm for the past 10 years, saving money for a place of his own.