WILLAg Notes

August 31, 2016

Low Returns, Crop Prices Keeping Pressure on Farmland Values



(Boone, IA, August 31, 2016) – Illinois farmland values continued their pullback around the state during the first half of 2016 as prices retraced between an estimated 3.3 percent and 7 percent. Continued low net returns and softening commodity prices are cited as the primary cause of the decrease. This is according to the Mid-Year “Snapshot Survey” information gathered by the Illinois Society of Professional Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers as well as the Illinois Farm and Land Chapter of the REALTORS® Land Institute (RLI). The data analysis is provided by Gary Schnitkey, Ph.D., with the University of Illinois College of ACES. The survey is part of an ongoing and larger annual Land Values and Lease Trends project conducted by the Society.

The survey results were released today at the Farm Progress Show being held in Boone, IA.

According to the survey, below $4 per bushel prices paid for corn are expected to continue into 2017 with some decreases in production costs expected. Cash rents paid are also expected to drop about $20 per acre.

Farmland Values and Volumes
Survey respondents indicated that land values decreased 3.3 percent for Excellent-quality farmland; decreased 4.5 percent for Good-quality land; 5.6 percent of Average-quality land; and dropped 7.0 percent for Fair- quality land.

(In a normal year, Excellent- quality farmland averages over 190 bushels of corn per acre, Good- quality farmland averages between 170 and 190 bushels per acre, Average- quality farmland averages between 150 and 170 bushels per acre, and Fair- quality farmland averages below 150 bushels per acre. )

Respondents estimated prices paid for Excellent-quality farmland during the first half of 2016 averaged $11,100 per acre; $9,400 for Good land; $7,600 for Average-quality land; and $5,800 for Fair-quality farmland. Sixty three percent of those responding to the survey reported that less farmland was sold during the year and 85 percent expect the same amount of land, or less, to be available for sale in 2017. Typical buyers (64 percent) continue to be other farmers and there are no expectations of significant changes in this.

Respondents indicate they are split on whether there will be the same or more demand for land with 48 percent expecting there will be some decreases in demand and 51 percent anticipating no change or a very slight increase.

Price Expectations
Overall, respondents are more pessimistic about prices at midyear this year compared to recent surveys with a full 90 percent expecting some further decreases in values ranging from 1 percent to 10 percent. Corresponding decreases on per-acre-return are also forecast with 49 percent expecting a drop between $25 and $50 per acre and 16 percent predicting decreases of more than $50 per acre. A mere 2 percent expect returns to increase and then only very modestly.

Cash Rents
While a full 93 percent expect corn yields to be above average they expect the price for corn to be around $3.45 per bushel. A full two-thirds of respondents expect a ‘slight’ decrease in production costs. All of this leads to expectations that cash rents will continue their decline along the lines of land productivity.

Expected rents for 2017 for Excellent- and Good-quality land are expected to decrease by 7 percent; 9 percent for Average land; and 6 percent for Fair farmland.




Currently the most popular type of lease arrangement is for Cash Rent (32 percent) followed by Share Rent (29 percent), Variable Cash Rent (20 percent), Modified Share Rent (12 percent) and Custom Farming (7 percent). Respondents indicate Share Rent leases and Fixed Cash Rents will decrease in use while Variable Cash Rents will become more popular.

The ISPFMRA will be conducting its annual Land Values and Lease Trends Survey over the upcoming winter months. The results of this larger survey will be released at the 2017 Illinois Land Values Conference set for March 23, 2017 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Bloomington, IL.


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