Where Are Farmland Values Heading?

Agricultural economists are said to seldom agree on things. The outlook for farmland values provides an excellent case in point.

FCC released its annual Farmland Values Report today. The national average farmland value increased 22%, the highest increase FCC has ever reported. Large profit margins for crop production and continued low interest rates have driven the recent surge, mostly observed in the first half of last year.

As we’ve noted before, the margins for the crop sector are expected to tighten. But there’s no consensus on what the future entails. Opinions diverge broadly, as outlined in these two separate outlooks on farmland markets.

A Re/Max report  states that despite a moderation of prices in the short-term, the positive long-term outlook for Canadian agriculture will sustain a “healthy” demand for farmland.

Professors Baker, Boehlje & Langemeier from Purdue University (Indiana) conducted a study which urges more caution when it comes to farmland valuation.

“Even though our data confirms the conventional wisdom that farmland has high returns, low risk, and is a good inflation hedge, the current [price /10-year average rental rate] ratio suggests this is not a good time to buy. Those purchasing farmland today should not ignore the prospects of “buyer’s remorse”.

Although crop prices have rebounded from their recent lows, the drivers of this recovery may be short term; such as being a function of the situation in Ukraine. As 2014 progresses, I’d urge crop producers to be cautious about using recent returns to project future cash flow.

What are you seeing in your area?

 

James Bryan, Agricultural Economist