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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