Crop land prices in the central Plains were steady to weaker in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the previous quarter, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Results were quite similar for farmland prices in the southern Corn Belt and upper Delta as reported by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Lower grain prices and outlook for those prices to stay lower influenced land prices and also the rents being paid for 2014 crop ground, it was noted. Farm income is not expected to equal last year, and bidding by neighboring farmers has not been as aggressive for purchasing ground.
But a year to year comparison, 2013 to 2014 still shows land prices being slightly higher in 2014. It was only the comparison of prices from the end of 2013 to 2014 that showed slight decreases to about steady pricing for cropland.
"Expectations of lower profits for crop producers have generally halted the rise in district cropland prices," the Kansas City bank said in its quarterly survey of 228 regional farm lenders. "The value of non-irrigated farmland dipped 1.4 percent from the fourth quarter of 2013 and irrigated farmland values rose just 0.5 percent. In contrast, strong demand for high-quality grazing pastures bolstered ranchland values, which increased 2.6 percent from the fourth quarter of 2013."
The Kansas City survey covers an area that includes Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, the northern half of New Mexico and the western third of Missouri. The region is the major producer of hard red winter wheat, the main U.S. bread wheat, along with corn, soybeans and other food commodities, cattle and sheep.
"In keeping with these trends, some bankers expected additional easing in cropland values in the next three months but felt that ranchland values could strengthen further," the Kansas City Fed concluded.
Farmland prices in the southern U.S. Corn Belt and Delta region of the Midwest eased in the first quarter of 2014 compared with the previous quarter as bidding for grain acreage and rents tracked lower grain prices over the winter and expectations for this year, said on Thursday.
The St. Louis bank reported, "Quality farmland prices fell slightly in the first quarter, a reversal of the gain reported in the fourth quarter of 2013." This Federal Reserve bank does a quarterly survey with 49 farm lenders in the district that covers Arkansas, eastern Missouri, southern Illinois and Indiana, and parts of Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi.
Results of first quarter of 2013 and 2014 compared showed an increase in top crop ground prices. Despite the decline in value from the end of 2013, quality farmland prices in the first quarter were 7.5 percent higher than a year earlier.
The St. Louis bank calculated the average crop land value at $5,496 per acre, down 6.3 percent from the fourth-quarter average of $5,868. But ranch or grazing land values were placed at $2,499 per acre, unchanged from last quarter and reflecting an improved profit outlook for livestock producers benefiting from lower feed costs after last fall's good national grain harvest, the bank noted.
The St. Louis survey area is a key producer of corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, hogs and cattle and some food commodities.
This report included information from Christine Stebbins with Reuters.
Read the report from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.