The following commentary does not necessarily reflect the views of AgWeb or Farm Journal Media. The opinions expressed below are the author's own.
Mike Walsten has covered major business trends in agriculture for more than 40 years.
USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) has released the county-level cash rent data it collected at the end of 2009. The latest data dump is a treasurer trove of information. But despite the volume of data, there's still plenty of questions of what to make of the data. For instance, the survey indicates that the average cash rent for the state of Iowa is $175 an acre. That figure does not seem to square with the annual survey of cash rents conducted by Iowa State University. That survey found the average cash rent for the 2009 growing season was $185 an acre -- $10 more and one crop season behind. The NASS survey also lists the average cash rent for Illinois at $170 an acre. Normally you'd expect to see higher rents in Illinois than in Iowa. Since the NASS survey is taken of producers and not landowners we wonder if there is a bit of a downward bias on the data.
Never-the-less, the data is still helpful. For instance, compare the current year's state average of $175 in Iowa versus last year's $170. The result is a 3% rise in average cash rents. For Illinois, compare this year's $170 versus last year's $163 - the result is 4% rise in cash rents. Based on what we've heard from landowners, tenants and farm managers, those percentage changes seem about right.
To look at the data by county by state go to: http://www.nass.usda.gov/QuickStats/index2.jsp and click on County Cash Rents Data Query or simply click here.
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If the coffee shop data is not reliable and farmers say they lie on the surveys. How does the widow find out if she is getting a fair cash rent?
The survey for Nebraska shows 4 entries. How can that be a reliable survey?
Since you have a Master's Degree in Business Administration, would you be so kinda as to explain how it is possible for an "average" rent of $175 cash flows? I assume that the range is wide but this is the "average" rate. When you consider the cost of inputs and machinery along with that rent and subtract that amount from "average" yields multiplied by today's commodity prices........somebody could be takin it in the shorts. Why not just give the highest price of cash rent because most landlords don't consider their land to be "average". How many of those figures that were collected for the survey have already been regotiated for the upcoming crop year?
And btw....as a farmer I certainly get tired of all you white shirts scrutinizing my business. What's your salary as a managing editor? I bet we could find someone who would do the same job for less money as you get. I realize you have to make a good news story but how about putting your finances in front of a telescope for all the world to see? I bet that notion doesn't sound very appealing.