Farm Progress

NASS shows highest rates for irrigated and rain-fed cropland in the northeast continue historic trend of competitive cash rents.

Tyler Harris, Editor

September 29, 2017

3 Min Read
HIGH RENTS: Historically speaking, eastern and northeast Nebraska tend to have competitive cash rental rates. This year is no exception.

Eastern and northeast Nebraska once again saw the highest cash rental rates, according to the most recent county-level statistics on cash rental rates released by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

In Nebraska, the highest range of irrigated cash rental rates was from $282 in Knox County to $312 in Dixon County. The next highest range was from $236 in Kearney County to $278 in Seward County.

The highest level of nonirrigated cash rental rates — all found in eastern Nebraska — ranged from $188 in Pierce and Butler counties to $266 in Dakota County.

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CASH RENTS ACROSS NEBRASKA: In Nebraska, the highest range of irrigated cash rental rates was from $282 in Knox County to $312 in Dixon County. The next highest range was from $236 in Kearney County to $278 in Seward County. The highest level of nonirrigated cash rental rates — all found in eastern Nebraska — ranged from $188 in Pierce and Butler counties to $266 in Dakota County.

The rates are based on a random sample of nearly 16,000 producers who were surveyed from March through June.

"These rents represent an average of all rates reported for a county. It consists of not just recently negotiated contracts, but those that may not have been updated for some time. There are lower rental rates sometimes between family members or contracts that haven't been renegotiated for a while," says Nick Streff, deputy regional director for the Northern Plains Regional Field Office in Lincoln. "It's kind of a swath of anybody who pays cash rent. We collect data in early February and March all the way through June. It's a really long collection period to make sure we get a good representation of people who are paying cash rent."

"We need at least 30 reports or 25% coverage in that county, so we try to make sure we get all the reports we can," adds Streff. "Because Nebraska has so much irrigated land, we really try to make sure we get 30 reports for irrigated and 30 reports for nonirrigated. In Nebraska we try to get both in each county. We know that number is quite important."

Jim Jansen, Nebraska Extension agricultural economist, noted that variability in crop and livestock prices appears to be influencing cash rental rates, as well as ag land values. Counties where there are wide production swings from year to year are more apt to have lower cash rental rates due to inconsistent income potential.

Meanwhile, the areas with higher cash rental rates have historically been competitive for cash rent.

"The trend appears to have continued on for 2017," says Jansen. "Some very nice, high-quality ground in those areas, that coupled with the dynamics of how competitive those are, have led to some of our highest rental rates we're seeing reported."

Meanwhile, the highest range of pasture cash rental rates was from $56 in Platte County to $73 in Pierce County.

"People typically rent grazing land in Nebraska by the acre or by the cow-calf pair. If a person rents by the acre, implicitly in the rental rates, these values reflect the traditional stocking rates of the area. Traditionally speaking, a person will probably see higher rates paid in acres that it takes fewer acres to support one cow-calf pair or one stocker calf for the grazing season."

Generally speaking, the further west you travel in Nebraska, the more acres it takes to support a cow-calf pair. That plays a role in the higher per acre pasture rental rates in parts of the state like Platte County, which has higher rainfall and has fewer pasture acres available compared to its neighbors to the west.

To learn more, contact Jansen at 402-261-7572 or [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Tyler Harris

Editor, Wallaces Farmer

Tyler Harris is the editor for Wallaces Farmer. He started at Farm Progress as a field editor, covering Missouri, Kansas and Iowa. Before joining Farm Progress, Tyler got his feet wet covering agriculture and rural issues while attending the University of Iowa, taking any chance he could to get outside the city limits and get on to the farm. This included working for Kalona News, south of Iowa City in the town of Kalona, followed by an internship at Wallaces Farmer in Des Moines after graduation.

Coming from a farm family in southwest Iowa, Tyler is largely interested in how issues impact people at the producer level. True to the reason he started reporting, he loves getting out of town and meeting with producers on the farm, which also gives him a firsthand look at how agriculture and urban interact.

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