Average Minnesota farmland values dipped slightly last year, based on a new analysis of real estate transactions across the state. The findings continue the recent slide of land prices during the past couple of years as prices for corn and soybeans remain relatively low and profits have been marginal for many farmers.
The latest analysis by the University of Minnesota Department of Applied Economics found that the average median price of farm real estate dropped 1.1 percent during the first nine months of 2016, from $4,776 to $4,725 per acre. The median is the price at which half of the transactions are higher and half are lower, and is considered a good measure to gauge price trends at the state or regional level.
In 2015, median farmland sales prices declined a bit more — 2.2 percent — compared with 2014.
Minnesota land prices were highest in 2012 at $4,917 per acre, when corn and soybean prices peaked, and have been declining gradually since then.
The report is an annual update of farm real estate prices based on actual sales transactions that are required to be reported to the Minnesota Department of Revenue.
William Lazarus, author of the report and a U Extension economist, cautioned against reading too much into statewide average land prices because they can vary considerably. For example, median prices in southwestern and south-central Minnesota were between $7,100 and $7,200 per acre in 2016, he said, while sales in central and west-central counties were more in the range of $4,000 to $5,000 per acre.
The value of a single farm depends on its soil type and fertility, location and other factors, he said, including how much a neighboring farmer may be willing to pay.
Also of interest in the report is the annual number of farmland sales in the state, which peaked in 2012 at nearly 2,900 transactions, and have fallen to about 1,500 each year in 2014 and 2015 and 977 during the first nine months of 2016.
Iowa also is experiencing declining farmland values, which dropped 5.9 percent between November 2015 and November 2016, according to annual survey by Iowa State University. Respondents included licensed real estate brokers, farm managers, appraisers, agricultural lenders, county assessors and selected individuals considered to be knowledgeable of land market conditions.
The most frequently stated negative factor affecting land values in this year’s Iowa survey was lower commodity prices, mentioned by 40 percent of the about 250 respondents. The same survey reported that before last year, Iowa land prices declined 3.9 percent in 2015 and 8.9 percent in 2014.