Wallaces Farmer

Average Iowa cropland cash rental rates stall in 2024

Rates for 2024 remain unchanged from 2023. This is the first time average cash rental rates have not increased in five years. Tight profit margins are likely why.

June 5, 2024

2 Min Read
Newly planted row crops in field
UNCHANGED CASH RENTS: Average cash rental rates for Iowa cropland stayed the same in 2024 as in 2023 at $279 per acre. Courtesy of Iowa State University

Cash rent for Iowa farm ground is mostly unchanged from 2023, according to the latest land rent survey from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

The average rent is $279 per acre of corn and soybeans. This is the first time rates have not increased in five years. In 2019, the statewide average declined to $219 per acre, a $3 decrease over the previous year.

“Despite the increase in land values and farm operating costs, cash rents remained about the same as last year,” says Alejandro Plastina, ISU Extension economist.

Tight profit margins drive flat rental rate

Plastina attributes the flat rental rate to the tight profit margins farmers are facing for growing crops.

“From December 2022 to December of 2023, we’ve seen the rate of return to farmers decline from about 10% to 2%,” he says. “Unless we see an increase in commodity prices, I expect rents will stay the same or decrease.”

The survey also includes rent for hay and pastureland, as well as oat production. The state average for established alfalfa is $200 per acre, followed by $145 for grass hay and $198 per acre for oats. Pastureland ranges from $95 per acre for highly productive pasture, to $60 per acre for low-productivity pasture.

The complete survey and historical comparisons are available in the May edition of Ag Decision Maker. The survey includes nearly 1,300 responses from farm operators, landowners, professional farm managers and real estate agents, ag lenders and other professionals, representing 1.7 million cash-rented acres in Iowa.

The survey also provides rates for nine regions of the state, as well as individual counties. Six of the nine regions saw an increase, with the largest per-acre values reported in northwest ($304) and northeast ($309) Iowa, while the lowest reported values were in the south-central district ($231).

Plastina reminds Iowans that the survey is meant to be one resource in the land-rent discussion, and that each land-rent contract should be decided by reviewing multiple sources of information, including the unique features of each farm.

His article in Ag Decision Maker also includes a link to USDA’s land-rent statistics, as well as links to popular land-leasing resources found on the Ag Decision Maker Leasing page:

For more information, Plastina can be reached at [email protected] or 515-294-6160.

Source: Iowa State University

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