A Positive Take On Land Values

Expect Land Equilibrium

Marcia Zarley Taylor, DTN Executive Editor

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (DTN) — U.S. agriculture could dodge the long-feared collapse in farm real estate prices this commodity cycle, contend economists, lenders and appraisers attending a Farm Foundation meeting this week. But some cautioned the bubble more likely to burst will be used farm equipment values over the next year if profit margins don’t improve.

“Land values haven’t seen near the pullback that everyone predicted,” observed Bruce Sherrick, director of the TIAA-CREF Center for Farmland Research at the University of Illinois. That moderation makes sense, he added, given that farmland investors keep a long-term perspective on value despite blips in day-to-day commodity prices.

“Land investors’ expectations of future income are more like climate, not weather,” Sherrick said. If it rains too much one season, it doesn’t mean the climate has changed, he said, any more than an abrupt correction in commodity prices necessarily undermines farmland values with a 30- to 50-year history of double-digit appreciation.

“The old saying is that economists have predicted nine of the last five recessions,” Sherrick said. “The farmland bubble has been over predicted as well.”

Randy Dickhut, a senior vice president and head of appraisals at Omaha-based Farmers National Company, agreed, describing the market as balanced. After studying recent sales in the more than two dozen states where the company operates, “what we’re seeing in farmland is an equilibrium between buyers and sellers, not a bubble,” he said.  READ ARTICLE

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