Common offer to lease farmland for solar panels: $1,000 an acre

More than half of large U.S. farmers say they have been offered at least $1,000 an acre during discussions about planting solar panels instead of crops on their land, said a Purdue University poll released on Tuesday. Bids have climbed rapidly since 2021, when the most common offer was less than $750 an acre.

Biggest U.S. farms get bigger

The largest farms — with sales of $1 million or more — operate nearly 26 percent of U.S. farmland, six percentage points more than they did a decade ago, even as the number of farms has changed little, said the USDA. In its annual Farms and Land in Farms report, the USDA estimated there were 2.003 million farms in the nation in 2022, a decline of 0.5 percentage points from 2012.

Farmland prices rise by up to 15 percent in hot market

With cash in their wallets, farmers are joining a throng of bidders that includes investors to drive up prices for farmland, said the largest U.S. farm management and real estate company on Tuesday. "Farmland sales prices are up by 5 to 15 perent in the past six months with most of the increase coming since the first of the year," said Randy Dickhut of Farmers National Co., based in Omaha.

Overseas, harvested land is expanding faster than in the U.S.

While U.S. farmers spent several years in the doldrums, agriculture in the rest of the world “appears to be in a sustained period of prosperity dating to the early 2000s,” said agricultural economist Carl Zulauf of Ohio State University. Growers overseas have steadily expanded the amount of …

Farmland values rise despite turbulent year

The average acre of farmland in Iowa, the top corn-growing state, is worth $7,559, an increase of 1.7 percent from 2019, despite the effects of the pandemic and the accompanying economic slowdown, said Iowa State University on Tuesday. It was the second year in a row of modest increases but land values remain $1,157 below their 2013 peak hit during the commodity boom.

Amid decline in commodity prices, farmland values could fall too

U.S. farm real estate values rode the express elevator to the penthouse during the commodity boom, gaining an average $860 an acre in five years. They are still at elevated levels despite the sharply lower farm income of recent years but may drift lower in the near term, according to two examinations of the farm economy.

The biggest U.S. landowners own nearly as many acres as New England states

Billed as "the magazine of the American landowner, The Land Report says the largest 100 landowners in the nation acquired an additional 2 million acres during 2017, an area larger than Delaware. All told, the 100 largest private land holders own 40.2 million acres, equivalent to the land mass of the New England states with Vermont excluded, said the Washington Post.

Bipartisan House bill to help young and beginning farmers

Reps. Sean Maloney of New York state and Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania unveiled a U.S. House bill to help young and beginning farmers get established. The sponsors said action is needed because of the advancing average age of U.S. farmers, nearly 60 in the 2012 Ag Census.

India emerges as No. 1 in the world for cropland

A high-resolution search by satellite found 15 to 20 percent more cropland in the world than previously thought and identified India as the world leader, says the U.S. Geological Survey. The USGS says its new map, showing 1.87 billion hectares of cropland, will help "to ensure global food and water security in a sustainable way."

House, Senate bills would close sodbuster loophole

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.

Shorthanded USDA lax on enforcing law on farmland ownership by foreigners

Since 1978, foreign entities and individuals have been required to report it to the USDA if they have at least a 10 percent interest in parcels of U.S. farmland totaling 10 acres or more. Yet the USDA does not review the reports for accuracy or completeness and, for lack of resources, does not even investigate if foreign investors are filing the required reports, says the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.

Impact investors flock to food and agriculture sector

Impact investors are now putting more money into food and agriculture than any other sector, using their capital to help ranchers switch to 100 percent grass-fed beef production, to connect small farms to communities with little access to fresh food, and to transition farmland used to grow commodity corn and soy to organic, regenerative systems, says Civil Eats.

Solar farms, and farmers, create political sparks

As costs have dropped, solar panels are becoming a common sight, including in rural America, where farmers are using solar to offset their costs in a variety of ways, says Civil Eats. When farmers move beyond generating electricity for farmstead use into acres of solar panels, it creates a tussle between clean energy and preservation of open spaces for forests and farms, according to a news site in Connecticut, where solar has the upper hand.

Value of Nebraska farmland down 15 percent in three years

The University of Nebraska's annual Farm Real Estate Survey says the average value of farmland in the state fell by 10 percent in the past year, to $2,805 an acre. It was the third year of declines since land peaked at an average $3,315 an acre, an overall drop of 15 percent.

Farms are eating up pollinator habitat, says study

Wild bees are disappearing in the country’s key farmlands from California to the Midwest to the Mississippi Valley, say researchers at the University of Vermont in the first study to map U.S. wild bee populations. The study found a 23-percent decline in wild bees in the contiguous U.S. between 2008 and 2013.

Farm confiscation in spotlight as political tool

"Prized farms are at the center of heated political infighting in Zimbabwe," says the New York Times, with the tactic, used against white landowners in the past, now a lever in the struggle over succession of President Robert Mugabe. At the same time, political opponents are under threat of losing their land, the Mugabe administration promises reforms, including recognition of land ownership, to obtain financing from the international Monetary Fund.

Farmland rental rates in Iowa fall for third year in a row

Cash rental rates for corn and soybean land in Iowa are down a cumulative 14.7 percent since 2013, according to a survey by Iowa State University. The average rate for this year, $230 an acre, is down 6.5 percent from last year's $246 an acre.

Brazil to end ban on foreign ownership of farmland

The new administration of President Michel Temer in Brazil plans to end the ban imposed in 2010 on foreign ownership of farmland, said Reuters. Brazil barred foreign ownership during a wave of concern that countries such as China would invest heavily in farmland but the rules boomeranged to an extent by making credit harder to obtain.

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