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Corn+Soybean Digest

What Will Happen with Land Values, Credit Crisis, Ag Economy?

Recently my Road Warrior travels included a pit stop to WebEquity Solutions in Omaha, NE, to conduct a webcast to 757 lenders across North America. Dave McEvoy, vice president of media and promotion, conducted a survey of participants prior to the webcast on key issues of interest such as land values, the economic crisis and lenders’ outlook on agriculture over the next 12 months. The following is a summary of responses.

Participants’ indications of the status of land values in the last six months showed a mixed bag of results. Approximately 10% indicated that values increased significantly. As a side note, in my travels I have noticed this happening in areas of high-quality land, good water and minerals and where there are very competitive producers who are plowing profits into acquisitions. Approximately 40% indicated slight increases of generally below 5% appreciation. About 35% stated land values had not changed, while 18% reported a slight decrease.

Apparently, few individuals from Florida, Arizona, Nevada and California were on the webinar. In Florida, the decline in farmland values is up to 50% in some areas. In the western states of Arizona, Nevada and California, the deflation is even greater.

The credit crisis and overall economy has had little impact on individuals’ ability to repay debt. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents indicated it impacted less than 10% of their customers. About 35% of respondents reported an influence on 10-25% of their customers, and none reported an impact on more than 50% of their customers

Regarding the outlook for the ag economy in the next 12 months, almost half of respondents felt it would improve slightly, while about 20% anticipated no change. About 36% thought the economy would worsen slightly. Overall, from an ag lender’s perspective on the other side of the desk, the outlook is fair to moderate.

Editor’s note: Dave Kohl, Corn & Soybean Digest trends editor, is an ag economist specializing in business management and ag finance. He recently retired from Virginia Tech, but continues to conduct applied research and travel extensively in the U.S. and Canada, teaching ag and banking seminars and speaking to producer and agribusiness groups. He can be reached at [email protected].

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