Decline In Florida Farmland Values Continues

Published on: 15:08PM Apr 14, 2010

Mike Walsten

The impact of the recession continued to drive the value of Florida farmland lower in 2009 with the exception of wooded farmland. That's according to the annual Florida Land Value Survey conducted by the University of Florida's (UF) Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. The survey, which does not evaluate urban land values, was taken during the final months of 2009 and seeks to determine average rural land values as of May 2009.

Results show farmland in North Florida dropped between 3% and 17% in value from 2008 while farmland in South Florida dropped even more -- between 10% and 31%. The decreases noted for 2009 follow strong declines in 2008, which saw some areas of Florida lose as much as half their value in 2008. Prior to the sharp downturn in 2008, rural Florida land values had experienced strong gains spurred by the population boom between 2002 and 2006, the report says.

The exception to the drop in value is wooded farmland, which reported a marginal increase of just more than 1%, but it's not clear what contributed to the increase, the report says.

The report indicated pasture land rose 22%, but this was interpreted as a market correction to a disproportional devaluation in 2008, says Rodney Clouser, UF professor of food and resource economics who conducted the survey.

Survey respondents said they expect land values will continue to decline in 2010 but that the decrease will be much less severe than that of 2008 and 2009, likely around 6% to 7%.

"The steepest decline is likely over," Clouser says, "but it will most likely be a few more years before we see an overall increase in values. Even after the bigger economic picture improves, there will be a surplus of land in Florida that will need to be sold before the values begin to go up again."

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