Farmland Values Stabilize in Western Corn Belt

Published on: 22:20PM Jan 07, 2016

Farmland values remained stable to slightly weaker in the western Corn Belt the last half of 2015, according to the semi-annual appraisal update conducted by Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica), Omaha, Neb., and Frontier Farm Credit, Manhattan, Kansas. The appraisal teams of the two large ag lenders update the value of 71 benchmark farms each Jan. 1 and July 1. Frontier Farm Credit joined FCSAmerica in this semi-annual appraisal update in January 2015, which means historical data will be available for Kansas over time.

The current update shows “farmland prices have remained fairly steady over the past year, while the number of sales and demand for farmland have declined across the associations,” the two lenders state. They indicate the number of public land auctions across their five-state territory declined 26% from a year ago and the overall sales activity was down in all five states. FCSAmerica serves Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. Frontier Farm Credit serves eastern Kansas.

“Sales of higher-quality ground are driving the market and keeping overall market prices steady. Fewer sales of lower-quality and average-quality land are entering the market,” the lenders state.
While farmland values have stabilized or declined only slightly from a year ago, there are marked differences between land type and states. In general, cropland values are lower in three states, while pasture and ranchland values are higher across all five states.

In Iowa, for instance, cropland values are down 6.4% annually while pastureland values are up 2.2%. In Nebraska, cropland is down 4.7% but pasture is up 6.2%. In South Dakota, cropland values are down 1.1% and pastureland is up 3.9%. However, in Kansas, cropland values are up 5.1% and ranchland is up 4.6%. In Wyoming, cropland is up 7.9% and ranchland is up 11.1%.

FCSAmerica notes Iowa cropland values are down 14.9% since their peak in 2013; Nebraska is down 9%, while South Dakota is off a slim 1.4%.