Farmland Rises Again

March 8, 2013 08:11 PM

The value of Corn Belt farmland shot up 16% in 2012 and is expected to rise further

Central Corn Belt farmland values are continuing to surpass expectations. According to a quarterly survey of more than 200 agricultural bankers conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the yearly increase in "good" farmland values was 16% in 2012.

"In spite of the drought last year, the annual increase for 2012 was just a notch below those of 2007 and 2011," says David Oppedahl, a Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago business economist. "On the whole, respondents anticipated farmland values to rise further during the January through March period of 2013."

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago serves the northern two-thirds of Illinois and Indiana, all of Iowa, the lower peninsula of Michigan and southeastern Wisconsin.

Poised to go higher. From Jan. 1, 2012 to Jan. 1, 2013, Iowa farmland saw a 20% annual increase, the highest in the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago district. Illinois and Michigan both registered 18% annual gains. Wisconsin’s farmland values increased by 11%, and Indiana listed a 10% increase.

It was the third consecutive year of momentous jumps in agricultural land values. From 2010 to 2012, the area’s farmland values had a cumulative rise of 52%, matching the fastest gain of the 1970s boom. After adjusting for inflation, the district’s 2012 annual increase in agricultural land values (14%) was the third-largest in 35 years.

For now, the sky is the limit for farmland values. Oppedahl says 43% of the responding bankers anticipate higher interest in land purchases in 2013, which will drive price potential. "With USDA predicting net farm income to rise 14% from 2012 to $128.2 billion in 2013, there seems to be at least another leg to be run as farmland values continue their upward race," he notes.

Recovery from the drought will remain a key factor in 2013, he adds. Even though drought conditions have diminished in the district, changes from this past year’s drought-influenced crop prices will affect crop farmers and livestock producers.

You can e-mail Sara Schafer at

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