Farmland Values Show Signs of Stabilizing

rolling cornfield with dark green color wash

Farm Credit Services of America reports smaller increase in values first six months of 2023

While cropland continued to gain value in the first half of 2023, Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica) reports signs that the real estate market is stabilizing.

FCSAmerica, a financial cooperative, appraises 63 benchmark farms twice a year to monitor trends in real estate in its four-state territory of Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. FCSAmerica’s July 2023 Benchmark Farmland Report was released today.

The chart below reflects the average change in value for multiple land types: dryland and irrigated cropland farms, crop-pasture farms and pasture-ranch operations. The number of benchmark farms appraised in each state is indicated in parentheses.

STATESix-Month ChangeOne-Year ChangeFive-Year ChangeTen-Year Change
Iowa (21)0.4%4.0%58.1%31.9%
Nebraska (18)3.2%8.4%42.0%22.9%
South Dakota (22)4.6%14.0%42.4%44.1%
Wyoming (2)0.8%13.3%64.3%121.5%

 

Benchmark values in the first half of 2023 remained strong in markets where the availability of land was limited and were steadier in areas with a consistent supply. Higher quality cropland also supported higher values, while average to below-average ground saw smaller increases. This is indicative of a more stable market.

Values on pasture and ranchland were supported by high demand and limited supply. Since July 2022, South Dakota has seen pasture values rise 12.2%, much of the increase happening in the past six months. Wyoming values are up 15.5% year-over-year. Nebraska pasture, by comparison, is down slightly.

For all agricultural land types, values remain at record highs. The steepest gains occurred in the last half of 2020 through 2021. The market has remained resilient in the past year despite successive interest rate hikes and drought in much of the region.

“The other driver in real estate is farm profitability and the overall financial health of agriculture, which has been extremely strong,” said Tim Koch, executive vice president of business development for FCSAmerica. “Profitability and optimism in agriculture have more than offset the negative pressures created by the increased interest rates.”

Profit margins continue to tighten because of higher input costs and lower commodity prices. Producers generally are planning for 2023 profits near break-even levels. This could result in a flattening of land values, with some areas possibly seeing a slight decline, Koch said. 

“There is lots of liquidity on farm balance sheets and overall leverage is down significantly,” he said. “So even if  profit margins, on average, return to break-even levels, the overall financial strength of producers will lead them to stay in the real estate market. We still could see instances of aggressive bidding for the right farm in the right location.”

Below are state-by-state trends in benchmark farmland values for the first half of 2023:

Iowa Values for 15 of the state’s 21 benchmark farms increased by less than 5%, and four declined slightly. The highest increase was 9.1%, the greatest decline, 6.3%. The overall year-over-year gain of 4.0% compares to increases of 37% and 12.8% in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Nebraska Seven of the state’s 18 benchmark farms increased in value by at least 5%, with two experiencing double-digit hikes, including a northeast Nebraska farm with an 18.3% gain. Nine farms saw little to no change and two declined in value. The year-over-year increase of 8.4% statewide compares to gains of 22.1% and 14.3% in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

South Dakota Values rose by double digits on five of 22 benchmark farms, with improving more than 25%. Fifteen farms saw values increase by 5% or less and the remaining two by 5% to 10%.  Year-over-year values rose 14% compared to 21% and 17.3% in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Wyoming The benchmark cropland farm experienced no change in value, while the value on the pasture unit increased 1.5%.

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