Results of a new Purdue University survey show farmland values across Indiana fell in the past year, in line with a slight pullback analysts anticipated after a decade-long rally.
"The results are about what we expected," said Michael Langemeier, Purdue agricultural economist and farmland value specialist. "There were no large surprises."
According to the Purdue Land Value and Cash Rent Survey, prices for the state's top-quality farmland declined by 5.1 percent, from an average of $9,765 an acre in 2014 to $9,266 this year. Farmland considered to be of average quality fell by 3.8 percent, from $7,976 to $7,672, and prices for low-quality land fell 4.8 percent, from $6,160 to $5,863.
It was the first time since 2009 that all three classes of farmland declined in value in the same year.
Values fell in all parts of the state except the 15 counties in southwest Indiana, where prices rose by 13 percent for the best available farmland.
"It was interesting to see land values actually increase there," Langemeier said. "I think this is the result of the very strong corn and soybean yields in the region last year."
Declines were steepest in areas where farmland prices have traditionally been highest, such as the west-central part of the state, where prices for the most productive land dropped by 11.5 percent.
Cash rents also fell statewide - by 2.4 percent for top-quality farmland, 1.3 percent for average land and 2.2 percent for poor land.
This was the first year since 1999 that cash rents declined in all three categories.
Experts attributed the declines to several factors, including lower commodity prices, which make farming less profitable, and the potential for higher interest rates. When interest rates are low, land prices tend to go up because it becomes cheaper to borrow money to buy real estate.
Nearly half of the survey respondents, 48 percent, said they expected farmland values to continue to decline over the next five years with commodity prices remaining lower over the period.
The survey was conducted in June by Craig Dobbins, professor of agricultural economics, and research associate Kim Cook. More than 200 farm managers, appraisers, land brokers, loan officers, Purdue Extension educators, farmers and other agribusiness professionals were interviewed.
The full report is available at https://ag.purdue.edu/agecon/Pages/Purdue-Agricultural-Economics-Report.aspx.