Frontier Farm Credit releases its benchmark farmland values through end of 2022
Benchmark farmland values continued to tick up in the last half of 2022, supported by high commodity prices and demand from buyers with strong liquidity. The pace of increase, however, has slowed. The steep hikes of 2020 and 2021 tapered to single digits in eastern Kansas.
Frontier Farm Credit, a financial cooperative serving agriculture, appraises the same seven farms and ranches every six months to track trends in the real estate market. The six-month change below reflects values as of January 1, 2023.
Values are up for both cropland and pasture. Values on pasture rose 5.9% in the last half of 2022, compared to 3.2% for cropland.
The biggest factor shaping land values is profitability in agriculture, said Tim Koch, executive vice president of business development for Frontier Farm Credit. Producers’ balance sheets are strong coming off three years of near record to all-time high profits.
Rising interest rates would typically have a negative impact in real estate prices, however strong demand and ample liquidity have contributed to continued gains in values across the Midwest.
Buyers, however, may be getting more selective, said Matt Clark, an economist with Terrain, a service of Frontier Farm Credit, Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica) and American AgCredit. While median prices for farmland went up in 2022, the difference between the highest and lowest prices was wider than it has been in many years, he said. (For Clark’s full report, visit TerrainAg.com.)
Cash rents also are factor for some buyers. Investor interest in farmland picked up in 2020 and 2021, as people looked for a safe alternative to a volatile stock market. But, Koch said, investor interest has slowed as increasing prices have resulted in reduced returns on farmland and the yield on alternative investments has improved.
Profitability in agriculture will continue to shape the real estate market in 2023. Producers, on the whole, enter a new growing season in a very strong financial position, Koch said. And while profit margins are tightening due to higher input costs, producers anticipate a fourth consecutive year of profits.
Tightening profit margins will likely slow the pace of future real estate price appreciation, however favorable producer sentiment and the strong financial position of producers will continue to provide price support in the near term.