Despite a 35% drop in farm income in 2009, U.S. farmland values rose slightly based on the potential for increased profits this year, according to USDA’s annual Land Values and Cash Rents summary released this past month. The value of farmland in the 48 continental states averaged $2,140 per acre at the beginning of 2010, up 1.4% from $2,110 a year earlier. Meanwhile, cropland values increased on average by just $30 per acre. Nationally, cash rents paid to landlords for cropland in 2010 rose $3 per acre, or 3%, while pasture rents remained unchanged.
"I really think we will see cash rents holding about steady to maybe just a tick lower for 2011," says Mike Walsten, editor of the LandOwner newsletter. That was the pattern for 2010 based on the annual survey by the Illinois Society of Professional Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers and the annual cash rent survey conducted by Iowa State University, which saw Iowa cash rents edge up 0.5% on average to $184 per acre. — Jeanne Bernick
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Top Producer, September 2010