Farmland values slipped some in the first half of 2019 in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. But on the whole, the real estate market for cropland remained stable as values continue to slowly adjust to the current margin environment.
The value of 64 benchmark farms tracked by Farm Credit Services of America declined an average of 0.59% in the first six months of 2019. Since the market’s peak in 2013, cropland values are down 20.1% in Iowa, 21.2% in Nebraska and 12.8% in South Dakota in the company's semiannual benchmark farmland study.
“Despite continued tight commodity price margins in 2018, real estate values remained stable and were supported by a favorable interest rate environment, market facilitation payments and equilibrium in the supply and demand levels for real estate,” said Tim Koch, Farm Credit Service's chief credit officer.
Iowa farmland experienced the biggest decline in the company's latest benchmark farmland study. However, values in the state still are up 2.7% compared to a year ago.
Modest declines in Nebraska and South Dakota in the later half 2018 extended into 2019 for a drop of 1.4% and 1.3% since last July.
Of Iowa’s 21 benchmark farms, 10 decreased in value, three increased and eight saw no change. Ten benchmark farms in Nebraska lost value, five increased and three were unchanged. In South Dakota, values dropped on five farms. The remaining 18 farms held even. Wyoming continues to see values for cropland and pastureland increase. However, the limited number of farmland sales in the state makes it difficult to accurately track trends.
Farmland sales across Farm Credit Service’s territory were down in the first two quarters of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018. South Dakota saw the biggest decline so far this year, with 26.7% fewer sales. In Iowa, sales were down 11%, while Nebraska’s combined sales for irrigated and dry cropland dropped 18.4%.
The average quality of land has not changed in the past year, and buyer demand for high quality ground remains strong.