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Slight upturn is seen in 2017 Tama County farmland values


January 29, 2018
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

"Stable" seems to be the agreed upon description for the current farmland values in Iowa and the midwest. The assessment is based upon what they're saying in the annual report of Iowa State University's Farmland Value Survey and reports from Farm Credit Services of America and Farmers National Company. All were issued in December or January and reflect the 2017 price trends.

For Tama and surrounding counties a slight up turn in average price is found in the ISU report: Tama County- $7,667 per acre in 2017 compared to $7,455 in 2016, a hike of 2.8 percent. Only Black Hawk County shows a double digit increase

Surrounding Counties

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Iowa State u

The values according to ISU Survey: Marshall County: 2017- $7,676 - 2016- $7,474 +2.7 percent; Grundy $8,816 - $8,552 +3.1%; Benton- $8,146 - $7,922 +2.8%; Poweshiek- $ $7,287 - $7,134 +2.2%; and Black Hawk- $8,841- $7,913 +11.7%.

Scott County continued to lead the state with a per acre value of $10,497, an increase of 1.6 percent over 2016.

While farm ground continues to appear to be an attractive investment for many, the surveys note prices are not skyrocketing like they did in what Farmers National Company terms "the historic run-up in land prices during the decade leading up to and including 2013"- the time ISU identifies as one of three "golden eras" in land values.

Fact Box

ABOUT ISU FARMLAND SURVEY: The survey was initiated in 1941 and is sponsored annually by Iowa State University. Only the state average and the district averages are based directly on ISU survey data. County estimates are derived using a procedure that combines ISU survey results with data from the US Census of Agriculture. Since 2014, the survey has been conducted by the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development in the Department of Economics at Iowa State University and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

The survey is intended to provide information on general land value trends, geographical land price relationships, and factors influencing the Iowa land market. The survey is not intended to provide a direct estimate for any particular piece of property.

The survey is based on reports by licensed real estate brokers, farm managers, appraisers, agricultural lenders, county assessors, and selected individuals considered to be knowledgeable of land market conditions.

Dr. Wendong Zhang is an applied economist and extension farm management specialist interested in land use, land management, land values and land ownership in the agro-ecosystem, as well as the interplay between agriculture and the environment with a focus on Lake Erie and Upper Mississippi River Basin agroecosystems.

Dr. Zhang is the leading researcher of the Iowa Land Value Survey, the Iowa Farmland Ownership and Tenure Survey, as well as the ISU Soil Management and Land Valuation Conference. He also led the development of the new, interactive Iowa Land Value Portal.


For the State of Iowa the ISU survey shows the average state-wide price for all quality of land is set at $7,326 in November 2017, up $143 or two percent from 2016.

During that golden era, the overall price for Iowa farm ground peaked at $8,716 in 2013 up a whopping 150 percent from the 2003 value of $2,275.

In recent years the ISU survey has found price declines overall in the state in each of the years 2014-2016 with a total drop from that top $8,716 figure to $7,183 in 2016, a drop of nearly 19 percent until the reversal in 2017.

Not surprising, both Farmers National Company and ISU pointed to low commodity prices affecting land prices. "Continued low profit margins and potential for an increase in sales activity could put downward pressure on real estate values," Tim Koch, Farm Credit Service America's chief risk officer said in a news release issued Jan. 22.

"I would caution any immediate hail of the turn of the Iowa farmland market given the stagnant farm income and rising interest rates. The fundamentals of the U.S. farm economy haven't improved significantly, so this recent increase in land value to some extent is defying logic," Wendong Zhang, ISU Extension economist said in the survey report.

Low Prices

Lower prices for commodities was the top factor last year for lower land prices in the ISU survey with 40 percent of respondents citing it.

The ISU survey found low interest rates and limited land supply as the top positive factors in the land survey.

Farmers National Company noted "Data released by land grant universities and industry organizations point out that there has been less farm and ranch land for sale than usual the past few years. Despite today's slow land market, Farmers National Company is experiencing a 50 percent increase in the land it has for sale over its previous high volume."

High Demand For Farming Loans

Meanwhile, the USDA announced on Jan. 19 a "near record year" for farm loans.

"FSA loan funds have been in high demand the last few years," said Robert Johansson, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for the Farm Production and Conservation mission area in a news release. "We provide opportunities to qualified small, beginning and underserved farmers who are unable to obtain commercial credit, to help them get started, gain access to land and grow their operations. Family farmers across America also come to us for credit when they face challenges to stay in business."



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