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Preliminary results of 2019 farm real estate report out in MarchPreliminary results of 2019 farm real estate report out in March

Annual survey gives picture of cash rental rates in Nebraska.

Curt Arens

February 1, 2019

2 Min Read
irrigation equipment
CROPLAND RATES: Preliminary estimates from the annual Nebraska Farm Real Estate Survey on cash rental rates for 2019 will be available in mid-March.

Cash rental rates are a big item for Nebraska farmers, especially when crop margins are tight. With operating expenses on the rise, turbulent grain prices and the potential for higher interest rates in 2019, rental rate trends make a difference in the bottom line.

Since 1978, an annual survey of Nebraska agriculture appraisers, professional farm managers and bankers engaged in agriculture has produced the Nebraska Farm Real Estate Survey, said Jim Jansen, Nebraska Extension economist.

Speaking to farmers at the recent Crop Production Clinic in Norfolk, Neb., Jansen said, “What we do with this survey is follow the folks who have the inside on what’s happening on land.”

The 2019 survey went out in late January, and preliminary estimates will be available by the second Wednesday in March. A final report is published in June, Jansen said.

While cash rental rates are only part of the survey, they are one of the closely watched components of the results.

The 2018 final report that was published last June found that cash rental rates for 2018 on dryland crops averaged 2% lower in the Northeast district and 3% lower in the East district, for instance, than in 2017.

An average cash rental rate on dryland crops in the Northeast district in 2018 was $210 per acre, while the average rate in the East district for dryland was $190. However, these numbers are only averages within a large district of several counties, Jansen said. As an example, higher-quality ground could garner up to $255 per acre in the Northeast, compared to $230 in the East. Lower-quality ground might capture $175 in the Northeast and $150 in the East district, as reported by those surveyed.

This variability across a region is brought out again in the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Land Values and Cash Rents reports that are published in odd-numbered years, Jansen said. These are of some significance because Conservation Reserve Program rental rates are based on a formula related to the numbers in the USDA report. Things have changed since the last USDA report in 2017, Jansen explained.

“But you can get some ideas on how cash rents vary across the area, with some counties having higher rental rates than others,” he said. “There is a wide range of rental rates, because there are differences in geography and soils.”

On irrigated cash rental rates, there is even more variation between the counties and within the area, because these rates often depend on the landowner and tenant arrangements regarding the irrigation system and who maintains it. New USDA rental numbers will be released with that new report in September.

For information on the 2019 Nebraska Farm Real Estate Survey, visit agecon.unl.edu/realestate.

About the Author(s)

Curt Arens

Editor, Nebraska Farmer

Curt Arens began writing about Nebraska’s farm families when he was in high school. Before joining Farm Progress as a field editor in April 2010, he had worked as a freelance farm writer for 27 years, first for newspapers and then for farm magazines, including Nebraska Farmer.

His real full-time career, however, during that same period was farming his family’s fourth generation land in northeast Nebraska. He also operated his Christmas tree farm and grew black oil sunflowers for wild birdseed. Curt continues to raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa and runs a cow-calf herd.

Curt and his wife Donna have four children, Lauren, Taylor, Zachary and Benjamin. They are active in their church and St. Rose School in Crofton, where Donna teaches and their children attend classes.

Previously, the 1986 University of Nebraska animal science graduate wrote a weekly rural life column, developed a farm radio program and wrote books about farm direct marketing and farmers markets. He received media honors from the Nebraska Forest Service, Center for Rural Affairs and Northeast Nebraska Experimental Farm Association.

He wrote about the spiritual side of farming in his 2008 book, “Down to Earth: Celebrating a Blessed Life on the Land,” garnering a Catholic Press Association award.

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