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Farmland Owners Optimistic About Values; O’Brien Again Has Most Valued Land

Ames, Iowa — Iowa farmland values have dropped four of the last five years in the Iowa State University survey — but some farmland owners are still optimistic that will change in the new year. Iowa State University economist Wendong Zhang conducts the annual survey.


The optimism about the land values extends beyond this year.


In our area, most land prices went up from 2017. The average going price in Lyon County was $9,454 in November 2018, up from $9,400 in 2017. In Sioux County, in 2018 it was $10,200. Tha was basically unchanged from 2017, when it was $10,202. In Osceola County, the 2018 average was $9,122, up from last year’s average in November of $9,069. O’Brien County had the most valuable land in the state at $10,413 this past November, up from $10,354 in November of 2017. Both averages were the highest in the state at that time. Sioux County land was in second place in both survey years.

Zhang takes a more guarded approach in predicting what might happen.


The limited amount of land available was the top factor cited on the price of land by those in the survey. Zhang doesn’t expect the number of sales to increase.


The majority of farmland sales — 72 percent — were to existing farmers and that included 69 percent of the sales to local farmers and only three percent were to existing relocating farmers. He doesn’t expect things to change much in 2019.


Zhang says much of the land is passed through families — and about the only thing that would change that process is a change in tax law.


The majority of farmland sales, 52 percent, were from estate sales, followed by retired farmers at 23 percent. Active farmers account for 15 percent of sales, while investors accounted for eight percent.

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