Wisconsin farmland values slow

State's agricultural land inches up 1 percent in the last year

The value of Wisconsin’s agricultural land inched up just 1 percent in the last year, well behind neighboring states.

The average value of Wisconsin farmland increased to $4,000 an acre, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture survey. But that’s compared to a 20 percent jump in in Iowa to $8,400 an acre and a 16.4 percent increase in Illinois to $7,800 an acre.

The biggest increase in the nation was in North Dakota where the average value of farm real estate jumped more than 36 percent to $1,690 an acre, according to the USDA survey, which was conducted the first two weeks of June.

Though farm real estate values in Wisconsin did keep pace with its neighbors, it did grow at a faster clip in recent years, including a 7.4% increase in 2012 and an 8% increase in 2011, according to the survey.

Wisconsin farmers have been conservative in what they will pay for land compared with farmers in grain-producing states, largely because they tend to grow corn and soybeans to feed their own livestock rather than selling the crops on the commodities markets.

“We just have not seen the big push for higher prices here,” said Bob Oleson, executive director of the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association. “I think everybody is looking for a little stability in land prices,” Oleson told the Journal Sentinel.

Land values can be affected by a handful of high-priced property sales and can drive up the rent that farmers pay for cropland, said Kevin Jarek, a University of Wisconsin Extension agent in Outagamie County. Land rents, in some cases, have jumped to $300 an acre for the most fertile ground in southern Wisconsin.

“I have gotten a lot more calls about renegotiating land rents, and that’s directly tied to the fact that some people may not want to sell their land,” Jarek said.

The rally in land prices and rents may slow this year if the price of corn drops from $7 a bushel to $4, as some commodity analysts predict.