Saturday, May 16, 2015

Midwest Land Prices Weaken

From the Chicago Fed's AgLetter:

For the first quarter of 2015, farmland values in the Seventh Federal Reserve District were unchanged from a year ago, but this result masked substantial variation among District states. There was an increase of 1 percent in “good” farmland values in the first quarter of 2015 relative to the fourth quarter of 2014, based on the survey responses of 234 District agricultural bankers. Strikingly, cash rental rates for District agricultural land were down 8 percent for 2015 compared with 2014. This decline provided some relief in rental costs for farmers facing much lower crop prices than in recent years. Demand to purchase farmland was weaker in the three- to six-month period ending with March 2015 compared with the same period ending with March 2014. Moreover, the amount of farmland for sale, the number of farms sold, and the amount of acreage sold were all lower during the winter and early spring of 2015 compared with a year ago. Just over half of the responding bankers expected farmland values to be stable during the second quarter of 2015, but nearly all of the rest expected farmland values to head lower...
Agricultural land values in the District managed to gain 1 percent in the first quarter of 2015 relative to the fourth quarter of 2014. There was no year-over-year change in farmland values for the District as a whole in the first quarter of 2015—in contrast to the slight decrease at the end of 2014. However, after adjusting for inflation using the Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index (PCEPI), there was indeed a year-over-year decrease of 1 percent for District farmland values in the first quarter of 2015.

It's always bad when comparisons can be made to the early Eighties when it comes to agriculture, as that middle graph could be interpreted.  Hopefully, things don't get that bad.

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