March 9, 2020
We are seeing noticeably longer days, and warmer temperatures are becoming more frequent as we enjoy the annual transition from winter to spring. This time each year is regularly one of the most hopeful, and folks all around seem to have a little different bounce in their step. Across the Iowa countryside, it won’t be long before planters are crisscrossing fields.
The early months of 2020 have been interesting. On the encouraging side of the ledger are seemingly calmer waters on the trade front. Increasing the demand base and market penetration for our crops is a big deal for Midwest agriculture. On the flip side of the ledger are worries related to the global spread of coronavirus, which is causing real concern for demand destruction in commodities and a general slowdown in the global economy. People are legitimately fearful of this unknown virus because of the death toll that has followed its spread. And uncertainty is the word of the day as it relates to U.S. presidential politics in this major election year. How might any number of policies change postelection? There’s a lot to think about this year, and we’re only at the quarter pole.
The late-winter farmland market has continued to show resilience and strength in most areas. A large volume of farmland sales occurred in the final 90 days of 2019, and the market absorbed the volume spike at fair market prices without much trouble. The first couple months of 2020 have seen a slowdown in overall sales volume, with steady to stronger land values in most locales. Given the recent heightened uncertainty and skittishness in the equity markets, long-term interest rates have again moved lower in a meaningful way. In fact, long-term mortgage rates are back at or near all-time lows, with the Federal Reserve again talking about further rate cuts.
As mentioned in the past, low long-term interest rates support stronger farmland prices. Farmland, as an asset class, looks favorable when the Dow is in freefall mode. So compared to many (or most) of the alternatives, farmland continues to push runs across the plate for long-term owners. The sales that follow reflect the relative stability in the farmland market across Iowa.
Lyon County. Northwest of Rock Valley, 89 acres recently sold at public auction for $11,500 per acre. The farm has 83 tillable acres with a 73.3 CSR2, which equals $168 per CSR2 point on the tillable acres.
Butler County. Near Dumont, 134 acres sold at public auction for $11,100 per acre. The farm consists of 131 tillable acres with a 91.2 CSR2, which equals $124 per CSR2 point on the tillable acres.
Bremer County. West of Readlyn, 188 acres sold for $8,800 per acre. The farm has 183 tillable acres with an 83.2 CSR2, which equals $109 per CSR2 point on the tillable acres.
Calhoun County. East of Rockwell City, 77 acres sold at public auction for $9,100 per acre. The farm consists of 76 tillable acres with an 85.9 CSR2, which equals $107 per CSR2 point on the tillable acres.
Marshall County. East of Liscomb, 72 acres sold at public auction for $10,600 per acre. The farm consists of 71 tillable acres with a 96.2 CSR2, which equals $112 per CSR2 point on the tillable acres.
Linn County. East of Urbana, 240 acres sold for $7,000 per acre. With 197 tillable acres and a 76.2 CSR2, this equals $112 per CSR2 point on the tillable acres. Note: The balance of the farm is timber pockets.
Mills County. North of Malvern, 240 acres sold at public auction for $6,000 per acre. The farm consists of 206 tillable acres with a 74.3 CSR2, which equals $94 per CSR2 point on the tillable acres. Note: The balance of the farm is timber pockets.
Madison County. South of Earlham, 40 acres sold for $8,000 per acre. With 39 tillable acres and an 85.2 CSR2, this sale equals $96 per CSR2 point on the tillable acres.
Louisa County. South of Lone Tree, 67 acres sold at public auction for $9,700 per acre. The farm has 62 tillable acres with a 75.7 CSR2, which equals $138 per CSR2 point on the tillable acres.
Hensley is president of Hertz Real Estate Services, which complied this list but did not handle all sales. Visit hertz.ag.
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