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Farmland Values Drop for Second Consecutive Year

Photo by Amy Mayer
Iowa State University economist Wendong Zhang says the drop in farmland values for the second consecutive year does not mean a plunge like the one in the 1980s is immiment.

Each year, Iowa State University surveys hundreds of bankers, appraisers, and realtors to capture a snapshot of farmland values. The decline of about four percent this year marks the first time since the farm crisis of the 1980s that values have dropped two years in a row. ISU economist Wendong Zhang says that doesn’t mean values will plunge.

"It's still much less than what you see in the 1980s," Zhang says, "and there are a lot of income and cash accumulation over the past few years so I don't think you'll see a large crisis as you've seen in the 1980s."

Zhang says it's appropriate for land values to fall when farm income and commodity prices are lower. 

Scott, O'Brien and Sioux counties have the three highest land values at nearly $11,000 per acre. Statewide the average value of farmland this year is $7,633. 

Current farmers are the number one buyers of farmland and buying land remains a challenge for new farmers. 

The Iowa farmland values survey has been going on since 1950 and this year an interactive web portal has been added. You can see values by crop district or county and compare to historic data at http://www.card.iastate.edu/farmland/

Amy Mayer is a reporter based in Ames