Fed Banks: Farmland Prices Move Lower

Farmland values and cash rents across the Plains and Mid-South declined in 2015, according to reports from the Federal Reserve Banks of Kansas City and St. Louis. While both organizations noted declines in cropland values slipped consistently through the year, both noted ranchland and pasture values reversed course in the fourth quarter and edged lower.

The Kansas City Federal Reserve reports district farmland values dipped in the fourth quarter with the value of nonirrigated and irrigated cropland decreasing 4% and 2%, respectively, from a year earlier. Leading the decline with a 6% annual decrease was nonirrigated cropland in both Kansas and the mountain states of Colorado, Wyoming and northern New Mexico. Both Nebraska and western Missouri notched 3% annual decreases. Oklahoma was the outlier, posting a 3% rise -- possibly related to the end of the drought in that region.

Kansas also lead the decline in the value of irrigated cropland at down 3%. Nebraska posts a 2% decrease and the mountain states register a 1% decrease. Again, Oklahoma was the outlier at up 3%.

District ranchland values eased during the fourth quarter, the bank reports, finishing the year at unchanged. The decrease is a marked change in trend as pasture and ranchland values posted an average annual gain of 8% through the first three quarters of 2015. Western Missouri reports an annual decrease of 2% in pastureland values. Kansas and Nebraska report pastureland finished the year unchanged from a year earlier. Oklahoma lists a 4% rise and the mountain states mark an 8% annual gain in ranchland values.

The Kansas City bank notes average cash rents for nonirrigated and irrigated cropland declined from a year earlier at a similar pace as the decreases in cropland values.

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis reports cropland values declined 2.5% on an annual basis through the fourth quarter of 2015. That downturn matches the percentage decrease noted in the previous quarter, the bank notes. It is also the third decline in the past four quarters.

The bank also notes district ranch and pastureland values fell 5.3% in the fourth quarter. The decrease came after posting gains in both the second and third quarters.

The St. Louis bank says cash rents for quality farmland fell by 9.5% in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared with a year earlier. However, cash rents for ranchland or pastureland rose by 8.6% in the fourth quarter after increasing by 2.5% in the third quarter.