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Farmland Values Up, Pace of Increase Slows

Farm Credit Services of America releases its benchmark farmland values through end of 2022

Benchmark farmland values continued to tick up in the last half of 2022, supported by high commodity prices and demand from buyers with strong liquidity. The pace of increase, however, has slowed. The steep hikes of 2020 and 2021 tapered to single digits in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota at the close of 2022.

Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica), a financial cooperative serving agriculture, appraises the same 63 farms and ranches every six months to track trends in the real estate market. The six-month change below reflects values as of January 1, 2023. The number of benchmark farms in each state is indicated in parentheses.

State

Six-month change

One-year change

Five-year change

Ten-year change

Iowa (21)

3.4%

12.9%

64.7%

39.8%

Nebraska (18)

5.1%

14.3.%

38.2%

28.6%

South Dakota (22)

9.2%

17.3%

34.6%

51.7%

Wyoming (2)

12.4%

29.7%

64.0%

119.9%

 

Values are up for both cropland and pasture. Some of the pastureland in the benchmark study sits in areas hit hard by the 2022 drought. Limited supply and continued demand for pasture helped to keep values stable.

State

Pastureland:
Six-month change

Nebraska

0.1%

South Dakota

0.5%

Wyoming

13.5%

 

The biggest factor shaping land values is profitability in agriculture, said Tim Koch, executive vice president of business development for FCSAmerica. Producers’ balance sheets are strong coming off three years of near record to all-time high profits.

Rising interest rates would typically have a negative impact in real estate prices, however strong demand and ample liquidity have contributed to continued gains in values across the Midwest. 

Buyers, however, may be getting more selective, said Matt Clark, an economist with Terrain, a service of FCSAmerica, Frontier Farm Credit and American AgCredit. While median prices for farmland went up in 2022, the difference between the highest and lowest prices was wider than it has been in many years, he said. (For Clark’s full report, visit TerrainAg.com.)

Cash rents also are factor for some buyers. Investor interest in farmland picked up in 2020 and 2021, as people looked for a safe alternative to a volatile stock market. But, Koch said, investor interest has slowed as increasing prices have resulted in reduced returns on farmland and the yield on alternative investments has improved.  

 

Cash Rents*

2022

2021

Change

Iowa

$256

$233

9.0%

Nebraska

$211

$198

6.2%

South Dakota

$165

$158

4.3%

Wyoming

$54

$53

2.9%

* Average cash rents above were collected by USDA as of August 2022 and are the most current available.

Profitability in agriculture will continue to shape the real estate market in 2023. Producers, on the whole, enter a new growing season in a very strong financial position, Koch said. And while profit margins are tightening due to higher input costs, producers anticipate a fourth consecutive year of profits.  

Tightening profit margins will likely slow the pace of future real estate price appreciation, however favorable producer sentiment and the strong financial position of producers will continue to provide price support in the near term.

Below is a state-by-state overview of the real estate market through the second half of 2022:

Iowa The average price for unimproved cropland sold in the fourth quarter was $12,865. This is lower than the price in the previous two quarters, but still above levels seen in 2021 and the beginning of 2022.

Public land auctions in 2022 were up 2% compared to the previous year. However, the total number of cropland sales, which includes realtor, private and sealed-bid sales, decreased nearly 25%.

Nebraska Dryland cropland prices in the state tend to fluctuate due to location and limited sale numbers. But prices continued to trend upward through the end of 2022. The average per-acre price was $7,115, nearly 40% higher than in 2021. Total sales were down 27%.

Irrigated cropland prices went up significantly in the fourth quarter to an average of $10,237 per acre, a new high. This was a 28% increase over the same period in 2021.

Total land sales were down 29% in 2022 compared to the previous year, while the average per-acre price for all land types rose 23%. Public land auctions increased 10%, but the majority (33%) were realtor sales.

South Dakota After a decline, the average per-acre price for unimproved cropland rebounded in the fourth quarter to a record $7,782.

Total sales in 2022 were down 14.4% compared to the previous year. Public land auctions increased 16% and constituted 45% of all 2022 sales.

Wyoming Cropland sales declined 36% compared to 2021, although some sales in the fourth quarter were still unrecorded. The limited number and diverse nature of sales in the state make it challenging to identify trends.

 

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FCSAmerica serves farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses and rural residents in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. For inquiries outside this geography, use the Farm Credit Association Locator  to contact your local office.