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March 2010 Archive for Your Precious Land

RSS By: Mike Walsten, Pro Farmer

Mike Walsten has covered major business trends in agriculture for more than 40 years.

Iowa Farmland Values Post 3% Gain Past Six Months

Mar 25, 2010

Mike Walsten

The value of Iowa farmland rose 2.8% during the six-month period ending March 1, according to the twice-a-year survey conducted by the Iowa chapter of the REALTORS® Land Institute (RLI). That rise was gleaned from the more than 180 responses from it's chapter members who took part in the survey who were asked to estimate the value of bare, unimproved cropland. Pasture and timberland was also surveyed and the survey found these values were down 4.5% and 4% respectively. The pasture and timberland figures were not included in the overall figure for farmland.

Combining the survey's 2.8% increase with the 1.9% decrease in values reported in the RLI's September survey indicates a statewide average increase of 0.9% for the year ending March 1, 2010, says Troy Louwagie, ALC, Hertz Farm Management, Mt. Vernon, Iowa, who heads up the survey team for the RLI.

All nine of Iowa's crop reporting districts showed an increase. The districts varied from a 4.4% gain in central Iowa to a 0.8% rise in the northeast crop district for the September-March period, he said.

Factors contributing to the increase in farmland values include: limited amount of land offered for sale, lack of attractive alternative investments, favorable long term interest rates, lower crop input costs and strong cash rents. Concerns that could affect farmland values in the future include: lower commodity prices, recent losses in the livestock industry, uncertainty of future government programs and continued uncertainty in the U.S. and world economy.

The Iowa RLI has conducted the farmland survey since 1978.

Click here for the report details.

Click here for the press release.

I will have more details in the next issues of my newsletter. If interested in seeing a copy of LandOwner, just drop me an email at or call 800-772-0023.



Nebraska Cropland Values Rise 5% to 6%, Pasture Fell 5.6% In 2009

Mar 22, 2010

Mike Walsten

The value of dryland cropland with no irrigation potential rose 6.4% across Nebraska as of February 1, 2010. That's according to preliminary findings from the 2010 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Farm Real Estate Survey. Meanwhile, dryland cropland with potential for irrigation development rose 7.3% on average with wide variation across the state depending on development restrictions and opportunities. State-wide the value of gravity irrigated corpland rose 5.2% and the value of center-pivot irrigated cropland rose 6.1%.

While cropland values rose, the value of non-tillable grazing land fell 5.6% with even greater declines recorded in the major range areas of the state. According to Bruce Johnson, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln agricultural economist who conducts the annual survey, the combination of upward gains for cropland and downward pressure from rangeland led to an overall statewide increase of 4.4% for all Nebraska agricultural land.

Click here for the full report.

If you'd like to see a copy of LandOwner, just drop me an email at or call 800-772-0023.


Survey: Illinois Land Values Finished 2009 Steady To Slightly Stronger

Mar 19, 2010

Mike Walsten

The value of good and excellent quality Illinois farmland finished 2009 steady to slightly higher across the state, according to the annual survey of farmland values and rents conducted by the Illinois Society of Professional Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ISPFMRA). The survey, released today in Bloomington, Ill., showed excellent quality farmland averaged $7,050 an acre on December 31, 2009, up 0.7% versus 2008 while good quality farmland averaged $6,300 an acre, up 0.8%. Poorer quality farmland finished the year steady to weaker. Average quality farmland was pegged as unchanged versus 2008 while fair quality farmland was down 2.3% compared to a year earlier.

Regional differences were apparent in the survey. The survey found the value of excellent quality land was steady to 4% lower in the northern counties of the state but excelllent quality land was steady to 10% stronger in the central region of the state.

The survey also found the total number of tracts changing hands was down significantly in 2009 as owners remained strong holders. Declines in sales volume of 30% to 40% was reported frequently with some areas reporting declines in volume of 50% to as much as 90%. The survey reported 47% of survey respondents expected land values would rise in 2010. In 2009, 26% thought values would rise.

Click here for the press release.

The next issue of LandOwner will carry survey findings in detail. I you'd like to see a copy of LandOwner, just drop me an email at or call 800-772-0023.


Weakness Seen in the Value of Texas Cropland

Mar 12, 2010

Mike Walsten

Contrary to the firming in farmland values seen in the Midwest, values remain weak in Texas. That's according to the most recent quarterly survey of Texas ag bankers conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. The Dallas Fed bank serves all of Texas plus southern New Mexico and northern Lousiana.

The survey found the value of dryland cropland in Texas slipped 2% during the fourth quarter of 2009 and finished the year down 5%. Irrigated values also edged 2% lower during the quarter and closed the year down 4%. The value of ranchland, however, firmed slightly during the fourth quarter and ended the year up 5%.

The survey also found 21% of respondents thought land values would weaken during the first quarter of 2010 while only 3% thought values would firm.

Click here for the full report.

Drop me an email at or call 800-772-0023 if interested in seeing a copy of my twice-monthly newsletter LandOwner.

In-depth Article Details African Land Grab

Mar 10, 2010

Mike Walsten

An in-depth investigative report by John Vidal in The Observer, published by London's Guardian media company, and later published on frames the scope, opportunities and strife associated with the current rush by private parties and nations to buy and cultivate food in Africa. The full story can be accessed here. The story highlights several of the big purchases in recent years including the size and locations of the land parcels and intended market for the food produced.

There are several key issues at play which includes land rights. Who really owns the land that is being sold. Many of the deals are executed between governments but local villagers have tilled the soil for decades and consider it theirs. This leads me to reaction no. 1: Thank goodness for our system of land deeds, titles and court system which proves and protects ownership and prevents a federal government from selling land to someone else.

Reaction no. 2: With countries putting this much effort into finding and controlling land for food production for their own citizens, surely the value of the highly productive land in the U.S. will rise at a pace at least equal to if not exceeding inflation over time.

Click here for the full story.

Drop me an email at or call 800-772-0023 if interested in seeing a copy of my twice-monthly newsletter LandOwner.

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