After years of stagnation, cropland values rose an average of $1,300 an acre in the three years since the pandemic hit the United States, according to the Agriculture Department. Values mushroomed 33 percent at the same time farmers enjoyed back to back years of record-high farm income, with income forecast to be the third-highest this year.
Higher commodity prices are putting cash in farmers' pockets and as a result, farmland values are headed upward this year, said economist Brent Gloy. "The question most are considering is, 'How high will farmland values adjust?'" asked Gloy in a blog.
Farmland values across the Midwest and Plains are steady or lower than they were last June under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic and fears of declining farm income, said the largest U.S. farm management and real estate sales company. (No paywall)
The average value of U.S. cropland is marginally higher this year, but has changed little overall since the collapse of the commodity boom early this decade, said the USDA’s annual Land Values report on Tuesday. Higher values west of the Great Plains, led by a 5.4 percent increase in …
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said he'll have a decision "sooner rather than later" — maybe by Friday or maybe next week in Iowa with the president — on whether unplanted cropland will be eligible for Trump tariff payments this year. The USDA initially said unplanted land would not be eligible for the up to $14.5 billion in trade-mitigation payments, but the huge amount of flooded land in the Midwest prompted a second look at the question.
The annual Plowprint report by the World Wildlife Fund estimates 2.5 million acres of virgin grasslands in the Great Plains were converted to cropland, or energy and urban development last year. While it's a smaller loss than the 3.7 million acres of 2015, the perennial loss of grasslands is a threat to water quality and wildlife habitat in the Plains, which stretch from Texas into the Canadian prairies.
Lawmakers from the Plains and Midwest filed companion bills in the House and Senate to discourage farmers from converting native sod into cropland nationwide by closing a crop insurance loophole. The legislation would require a reduction of crop-insurance subsidies for four years before producers could qualify for them.
A study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters estimates that 139,000 square miles of cropland in or near urban areas rely heavily on untreated wastewater for irrigation, says Modern Farmer. That's far larger than a 2004 assessment that pegged the total at 77,200 square miles.
The average value of farmland including all land and buildings dipped $10 to $3,010 per acre acre in 2016 from a year earlier, the first such decline in the U.S. since the recession of 2009, the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service reported in its annual Land Values Summary. Land values have been pressured by booming harvests and falling crop prices.
Virtually no organic honey sold commercially in the U.S. comes from domestic hives, as commodity-crop farmers convert ever more grassland into cropland, leaving honeybees with fewer pesticide-free fields to forage, reports Civil Eats. North Dakota, for instance, which produces more honey than any other state, lost more than 100,000 acres of grassland over the past decade.
The worldwide spike in food prices nearly a decade ago set off a land-buying surge by wealthy investors and nations wanting to shore up their food supply by acquiring cropland in developing nations. The surge was decried by critics as land grabs that would displace small farmers and herders. "The emerging new trend we wrote about in 2008 has continued and become worse," says the nonprofit Genetic Resources Action International (GRAIN).
Cropland in the Corn Belt is worth an average $6,840 an acre, down 2.3 percent from last year, according to the USDA's annual Land Values report.
Corn and soybeans are the two most widely grown crops in the nation, forecast at 174 million acres this year, or slightly more than half of the land devoted to the two dozen "principal" crops of the United States.
Farmers and ranchers have two additional weeks to enroll in the Conservation Stewardship Program, which pays producers for practicing conservation on working lands. The deadline for applications initially was set for Friday but now will be March 13, says the Natural Resources Conservation Service. An official announcement will be made this morning.
A bill in the Oregon Senate, introduced at the request of Gov John Kitzhaber, would allow the state to establish control areas to separate genetically engineered crops from organic and conventional crops if necessary to prevent cross-pollination, says Capital Press.
With cattle prices at record highs, grassland prices are a good bet to rise in the coming year, the head of a farm management company tells DTN.
The government could idle more environmentally fragile cropland if it alters its management of the Conservation Reserve to maximize the benefit achieved per dollar instead of aiming for the greatest benefit per acre, says a study by the think tank Center for Agricultural and Rural Development. Created in 1985, the Conservation Reserve, which pays landowners to idle fragile cropland for 10 years or longer, is the largest U.S. land set-aside program ever with an annual cost of $2 billion.
For the most part, farmers put their cropland to more intense use rather than convert forests and grasslands because of demand for biofuels in recent years, says a study by the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development.