Farm Credit Services of America Reports Farmland Values in First Half of 2020

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OMAHA, NEBRASKA - (July 27, 2020) - Farmland values held steady in the first half of 2020 in the corn belt states served by Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica). Stable demand for farm ground and low interest rates helped to support values amid the broader economic disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There still is liquidity in agriculture, and those who can afford it are looking for real estate,” says Tim Koch, executive vice president and chief credit officer at FCSAmerica.

In Iowa and Wyoming, benchmark farmland values increased 0.3% in the first six months of 2020. Nebraska experienced a decline of -0.4%, while South Dakota saw a larger but still modest drop of -2.0%. Koch said overall declines in real estate values in Nebraska and South Dakota were at least partially influenced by broader declines in pastureland values of 4.0% and 4.7%, respectively. South Dakota also is seeing residual impact from last year’s flooding.

Methods of sale also shifted as states issued guidance on reducing community spread of the virus through social distancing. Public auctions declined 21%, 31% and 35% respectively in Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming in the second quarter compared to the same period last year. In Iowa, public auctions were down 8%. More buyers in the region chose to list land privately or through a realtor.

On the whole, however, values continue to benefit from many of the same factors that have supported the market for the past few years, Koch said. The following factors will help determine the direction of the real estate market in the months to come:

  • Already attractive interest rates reached historic lows during the early weeks of COVID-19. Indicators point to favorable rates for the foreseeable future, Koch said.

     

  • Federal aid to an industry hit hard by the trade war now includes payments to ease financial pain from the pandemic. While producers would prefer an environment in which government support wasn’t’ needed, Koch said, the aid has been critical to farm income. Depressed commodity prices are currently signaling reduced farm income levels for 2020. Absent additional federal support, increased financial stress across a broad segment of agriculture would likely yield increased sales activity and the potential for further softening of real estate values.

     

  • Buying continues in a tight real estate market. Across the region, availability of dry cropland is down. Nebraska also saw fewer listings of irrigated land in the first half of 2020. Those in a position to buy see farmland as a secure, long-term investment, Koch said. So far, it continues to be producers who are the predominant buyers, however continued interest from investors looking to diversify their investment holdings continues to provide further support to farmland values.

State-by-State Changes in Benchmark Farmland Values

State

Six Month

One Year

Five Year

10 Year

Iowa (21)

0.3%

1.0%

-4.4%

63.7%

Nebraska (18)

-0.4%

3.0%

-14.5%

81.4%

South Dakota (23)

-2.0%

-2.8%

-14.4%

75.7%

Wyoming (2)

0.3%

2.3%

28.4%

53.7%

 

Benchmark Farms
Twelve-Month Change in Value

State

Cropland

Pasture

Iowa

1.2%

-0.1%

Kansas

0.8%

-1.3%

Nebraska

-1.5%

-4.0%

South Dakota

-0.5%

-4.7%

Wyoming

4.5%

0.0%

 

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