Southeastern Idaho and Utah
In sunny, dry Utah and southeastern Idaho, land prices are holding firm, even in one of the most severe droughts in history. Wildfires have destroyed substantial amounts of fall and winter grazing and caused alfalfa hay prices to significantly increase. Hay prices are also high due to reduced production from the drought. This has maintained confidence in firm land prices and anticipated farm income for 2018 and 2019 due to decreasing hay inventories. The remainder of crop income continues to be low along with depressed dairy income. This is pressuring land prices, but so far, no significant decrease is apparent.
Investment groups have discovered Idaho farmland opportunities, which has helped maintain price pressure.
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—Thomas Boyer, TVB Management Company LLC, Coalville, Utah
One of the major factors affecting California agriculture is the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). SGMA will eventually reduce groundwater extraction in most or all of California in the future. The extent of the reduction is unknown, but there will be fallow ground in some areas because of the lack of water. Other areas appear to be nearly in balance with sustainable groundwater and might not need to fallow much land. SGMA has had at least two effects on land values. In areas where there is no water district and the water table is in critical overdraft, land values have declined to $9,000 per acre and could decline even further. For land with excellent water conditions, values have increased from $24,000 per acre to $27,000 per acre.
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—Steve Runyan, Runyan Appraisal Service, Bakersfield, Calif.
For the fourth consecutive year, the all-land value average across the state of Nebraska was about 4% lower than the average in the year prior. However, the Nebraska real estate market rate of decline has slowed from prior years. The biggest concerns in the market value of land will depend on the length of time tariffs are in place, suppressed crop prices and the state’s high property tax policies. Good-quality land is holding steady, and values for lower quality land are definitely softer and more variable.
It’s important to note Nebraska has diverse land resource characteristics. Values for center pivot irrigated cropland across the state have declined by 3%, and those for dryland cropland range from $7,000 in the east to $670 in the west.
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—Michael Krause, Hertz Farm Management Inc., Omaha, Neb.
Iowa’s crops are predicted to set new records this year. The middle one-third of the state has had the best run of weather all year and will see the highest yields. The northern side was wet earlier, and the southern side has been dry. However, better hybrids and improved management practices resulted in a great crop that developed ahead of normal.
We’re entering “selling season” for farmland in western Iowa. Normally, about 75% of public land sales occur in the second half of the year with each month gaining volume into December. Most nonfamily or nontenant transactions are made at public auction. Consider that a truer test of this market area than nonexposed transactions. A search of “cropland only” sales in mid-August indicated more activity than the previous two years up to that point; expect that trend to continue for the year.
As another item, acres per transaction are lower. With basically steady prices on good land, that means total dollars per transaction are also down by roughly 10%. Although the appetite to purchase additional land is strong, economic caution is persuading many to opt for smaller purchases with smaller financial commitments. Farmers typically buy about 75% of the cropland available.
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—Dennis Reyman, Stalcup Agri Services Inc., Storm Lake, Iowa
The first half of 2018 saw a steady to slightly stronger land market for farms with high-quality soils, good drainage and excellent farmability. Farms with average soils, below-average drainage and less-than-perfect farmability were 3% to 6% lower in the first half of 2018. Weather conditions in June and July combined with lower commodity prices resulted in a slightly weaker market for prime-quality farms and more significant discounts for lower quality land. Prime-quality farms will bring $7,500 to $9,000 per acre, and average-quality farms are in the $5,500 to $7,500 range.
In the fourth quarter of 2018, inventory of properties for sale is increasing. Final yield results, length of time tariffs are in place, local supply of land and interest rates will impact future values.
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—Corey Prins, Northwestern Farm Management Company, Marshall, Minn.
We are in the midst of some unique times in Illinois agricultural real estate. “Unique” might be underestimating the situation. Illinois saw historically high prices in 2013/14 that have been softening ever since. Annual dips in values have been anywhere from 2% to 10% since then.
I expect to see a continued decline in land values; it will only be a matter of how significant a decline. In 2017, my precise area of Illinois logged declines of 2% to 5% for Class A acreage. I suspect we will see a steeper decline for 2018 when it is all said and done. The two main issues providing weakness to the corn and soybean market, thus effecting land values, are the ongoing trade disputes and tariffs and the exceptional supply of grain we are producing.
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—Luke Worrell, Worrell Land Services, Jacksonville, Ill.
The overall theme continues to be limited supply and strong demand in the mid-South. The recent USDA Land Values publication reported land values had seen a year-over-year increase of about 2.2%. However, when you look at irrigated land and land with high-class soils, the year’s growth pushes 3% with some isolated markets higher. High-quality properties are in strong demand and move quickly if priced properly.
Recent sales have brought a range of $5,000 to $6,000 for premium properties, which are almost always 100% irrigated and highly improved. Prices then fall off by 15% to 20% for irrigated ground that needs further improvements and discounted again for unimproved dryland farms.
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—George Baird IV, Land Management Group, Collierville, Tenn.