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Land auction draws big and locally

2012 has been a remarkable year for farmland values. Even a record-setting drought hasn’t dampened the market. And as this year draws to a close, the number of land sales has increased along with the prices paid for the land.

A recent auction held in southwest Minnesota at Fulda illustrates this point. During the two-day event, 2,080 acres of farmland were sold in 15 tracts of 80 and 160 acres. The total selling price was $16.8 million, which exceeded the sellers’ expectations going into the sale, according to the broker Cindy Moen, president of Fairland Management Co., Windom, Minn. The average price per cultivated acre was $8,800 with a range of $6,400 to $11,200/cultivated acre. Cultivated acres totaled 1,900.

Interest in the auction was high. About 200 people attended the first day when I was there. Moen says there were 50 bidding groups and most were local farmers and livestock producers. She saw very little investor interest or participation. She did see a lot of interest from farmers from Iowa. And after hearing about the $21,900-per-acre farmland sale just a couple counties south in Iowa, it makes sense. Iowa farmers are trying to find cheaper land.

Overall, land prices are increasing about 10 to 20% in this area, Moen estimates, with most of the increase coming in the last four months. She says their office has been really busy with land sales.

Now, Moen’s office is busy with other land transfers. The Dec. 31 deadline for expiration of the tax laws looms and clients are taking advantage of the $5.12 million gift tax exemption. Unless Congress acts on this before the end of the year, the tax exemption drops to $1 million, which will only cover 113 acres at $8,800/acre.

More on land values and the 2013 outlook is located here.

Note: This is Karen McMahon's editor letter to the readers from the December issue of Farm Industry News magazine.

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