Cash rents for pasture in Wyoming averaged $4.80 per acre in 2017, down 9.4% from $5.30 in 2016, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Also dropping in the state were the average value of irrigated cropland, down 1.4% to $2,170 per acre, and the value of non-irrigated cropland, down 1.3% to $760 per acre.
“The types of crops we produce in Wyoming are often related to producing livestock feed, and many agricultural operations in the state are a combination of both cattle and crop production,” says Chris Bastian, a professor in the University of Wyoming’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.
Bastian also says that a drop in cash rents for pasture suggests softer demand for rangeland leases compared to previous years.
“These two factors generally suggest that as net-cash farm income for cattle production declines, the demand for agricultural land in Wyoming softens,” he says. “This is likely what is largely driving the drop in cropland prices projected for the state.”
Bastian says it is interesting to note that cropland in the Northern Plains region — Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas — is projected to be down 4.4% for 2017.
“Again, the importance of livestock production and related declines in income for livestock largely impact this decline.”
The USDA Economic Research Service forecasts that cattle/calf receipts are projected to be down 6.7% overall in 2017, Bastian says.
This, coupled with continued rises in input costs, is pushing down the net cash income for cattle-calf operations by12.9% overall, he adds.
Ranchers boost holdings
The Steve Cole Trust of Lusk, Wyo., sold its 3,757-acre farm/ranch in Goshen and Niobrara counties to Dennis and Linda Isakson of Van Tassell, Wyo.
The historic agricultural property in eastern Wyoming was listed for $2.5 million, or $665 per deeded acre. The selling price was not available. The transaction came with 640 acres of state lease lands.
The majority of the acreage is dryland grass pastures that are owner-rated as a 200 cow-calf operation, but historically has been used to graze 500 to 600 yearlings from spring through fall.
About 130 acres are under center-pivot irrigation, producing about 5 tons of alfalfa hay per acre.
Two submersible wells and eight windmills provide stock water to tanks across the ranch. Additional amenities include a modest home, detached garage, large shop, two barns and a set of pipe corrals. The ranch is home to a variety of wildlife species, including mule deer, pronghorn antelope and upland gamebirds.
The ranch was listed by Clark and Associates Land Brokers.