Survey shows Iowa farmland owners optimistic for values to increase


Iowa farmland values have dropped four of the last five years in the Iowa State  University survey, but some farmland owners are still optimistic that will change in the new year. 

Iowa State University has recently released its annual farmland value study. Agricultural economist Wendong Zhang conducted the annual survey.

He said one-third of those in the survey expect a modest decline, while 15 percent see no change. 

“So roughly half are in the camp of a modest decline or no change; half (expect) an increase,” Zhang said.

The optimism about the land values extends beyond this year.

“Five years from now, a vast majority of people are thinking the land value will be higher than the current level,” he said.

Zhang takes a more guarded approach in predicting what might happen.

“I think I’m probably a little more pessimistic than the average respondents. In general, I see a stabilizing land market. I probably wouldn’t expect a significant increase in the land market, at least in the immediate future,” Zhang said. 

The limited amount of land available was the top factor cited on the price of land by those in the survey. Zhang doesn’t expect the number of sales to increase.

The majority of farmland sales, 72 percent, were to existing farmers and that included 69 percent of the sales to local farmers and only three percent were to existing relocating farmers. The Ag Economist doesn’t expect things to change much in 2019.

The majority of farmland sales, 52 percent, were from estate sales, followed by retired farmers at 23 percent. Active farmers account for 15 percent of sales, while investors accounted for eight percent.

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