The following commentary does not necessarily reflect the views of AgWeb or Farm Journal Media. The opinions expressed below are the author's own.
Mike Walsten has covered major business trends in agriculture for more than 40 years.
Cash rents are down about 5% on average across the Corn Belt, according to our recent survey of more than 1,000 Pro Farmer Members and LandOwner subscribers. Some 48% of survey respondents said their cash rent did not change from 2014 while nearly 28% report their rent declined less then 10%. Some 16% report their cash rent decreased by 10% or more. Slight more than 5% of respondents report their cash rose by less than 10% in 2015 compared to 2014 and 3% say their cash rent increased by 10% or more.
The findings tend to confirm what we've been hearing from across the Corn Belt. The high cash rents, those starting at $400 and ranging up to $650 an acre in 2013, backed off in 2014 by $50 or so in 2014. Those rents have come down again for 2015. Cash rents starting at $350 and higher in 2014 have backed off about $50 on average again for 2015. Some have come down by as much as $100 an acre.
But while those rents attract plenty of attention and coffee shop chatter, they do not represent the entire market. Even in 2014 there were still plenty of average and below-market cash rents. Some of those are still on the increase as they attempt to narrow the gap with the high-end cash rents in recent years. Others were not increased as aggressively as the high-end rents the past several years and are proving "sticky" now that pressure is on commodity prices and net incomes. It may be 2016 or 2017 before those rents decline more than marginally, if current commodity price trends continue.
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Everybody is getting hurt and bleeding from low prices, higher inputs/ rent is just a larger wound.
Its good to hear that some land rents are going down. Here in the Red River Valley rents are steady to up. Rents I believe should drop but for them to come down 10-30% to fallow corn, wheat, and soybeans will take more than two bad years. Lets just hope for a rally in the commodities because its more likely for them to go up than land rent to go down.