At 69, Barry Allen says there is no one around to take over the farm that has been in the family for more than 100 years, so he has the “package” that includes 13 quarter sections of irrigated land on the market.
And if you can scrape up $13 million it could be yours.
Allen who was born and raised on the family farm at Barons, just northwest of Lethbridge, Alta. says he’ll be sorry to see the farm that was homesteaded by his great grandfather in 1903 sold, but the time has come. He has rented the farm out for the past six years, and for the past while he’s had it listed with Clearview Property realtors based in Lethbridge. There’s a For Sale sign at the junction of Highway 23 and Secondary Road 520 that lists some of the specs of the long-time grain and oilseed operation, including the $13,000,000 price tag.
“I wondered about putting the price on the sign, but the realtor thought it would be a good idea and I said “why not”,” says Allen. “At least it keeps the tire kickers away. The farm has good soil and is very productive, and it is all-together basically in one block. It may look expensive, but not as expensive as some of the irrigated farm land further east of here.” It comes with a nice view of the east slopes of the Rocky Mountains too.
The farm, has some dryland but features 13 quarters all irrigated with pivots supplied with water from the Lethbridge Northern Irrigation District. Two quarters draw water from a canal and the rest are tied into a pressurized pumping system. For the first 96 years under Allen ownership it was a dryland operation. In the early days of his farming career, Barry also spent 11 years as a welder in the oil patch. The first irrigation was introduced in 1999 and the system has expanded over the past 14 years.
“And we have grown some great crops on there over the years,” says Allen. He says he always paid attention to proper fertility and good weed control as he grew alfalfa, cereal grains, and canola, and always liked flax too. At one point some farmers from Ponoka rented two quarters for potato production and the current renters are also producing some seed potatoes on “virgin” land for export to Idaho.
Allen subdivided the homestead where he was born and continues to live, so it is not part of the package. But the farm does comes with about 100,000 bushels of storage including about 60,000 bushels of aerated bins.
SUSTAINABLE WATER SYSTEM
Realtor Brian Patterson of Lethbridge, who has been around the irrigation and real estate businesses a long time, says it isn’t easy to find nice, productive “packages” of farms on the market, which minimizes the amount of travel between fields. He says all over the world irrigated farmland is dropping in value simply because the underground acquifers that hold the water are drying up. “Southern Alberta is one of the few jurisdictions in the world where irrigated farm land is increasing in value,” says Patterson. “Our system here is built around surface water storage, and the industry is always working to make more efficient use of water for long term sustainability.” He says some of the dryland acres could make an excellent headquarters for an intensive livestock operation with plenty of acres to produce feed.
More information on Allen’s farm can be found on the realtor website at: www.4033081612.com
In the meantime, Barry Allen says the right buyer will be coming down the road one of these days. He’s planning to continue living in the house where he was raised. He is not sure of his long range plans “I figure I’ll have to find a job doing something,” he says.
Lee Hart is a field editor for Grainews in Calgary, Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]