Values of high-quality farmland in the central U.S. remain on a slightly downward trajectory in light of lower commodity prices, financial market conditions and the upcoming election, according to a new Farmers National Company survey of land values. Yet not all farmers are facing bearish near-term values – those in Washington, for example, are seeing a slight bump over values seen this past year as farmers and investors shift additional capital into well-irrigated acreage.
At the same time, prices remain “historically strong,” the company reports in a news release—a fact that isn’t preventing farmers from bidding when high-quality land becomes available for sale in their neighborhood.
“It remains highly sought after and pricing remains pretty stable mostly,” states Roger Hayworth, area sales manager for Farmers National, “while we see mid- to lower-level quality land decline 3% to 8%, depending upon the specifics of the subject property, such as tiling, soils and any improvements made.”
States in the survey enjoying a slight increase in per-acre values for high-quality land include Missouri ( $200) and Tennessee ( $150). Meanwhile, values remained relatively steady in states including Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Texas. Values slipped slightly in Michigan, Mississippi and South Dakota (-$100 each); a big more in North Dakota (-$400), Indiana and Iowa (-$500 each); and the most in Illinois (-$600), Minnesota (-$900) and Nebraska (-$1,500).
Overall, the company reports, farmers are being more cautious about purchasing additional land because of lower commodity prices. All of that is subject to change, though.
“Looking ahead, I believe we will continue to see sluggish offerings in this market and overall values swaying a little to stable until the end of the year,” Hayworth states. “If commodity prices move slightly higher during the second half of 2016, expect land prices to remain stable with higher quality, maybe even clicking forward a little.”
One notable exception to the overall downtrend in cropland and grassland is Washington, where the average June sale price per acre jumped up $2,500. There, farmers and investors simply want land that’s well-watered. Improvements such as grain systems and storage facilities aren’t moving the needle.
“Those other improvements are not getting them any more value,” states Flo Sayre, Farmers National Company real estate broker for Washington. “Farmers are just after the dirt.”