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Minnesota Farmland Sales Down Slightly in 2016

By David Bau, Extension Educator

Last month I listed the average sales prices for farmland sold in the first six months of 2016 for 14 SW Minnesota counties. That data indicated a 2.6 percent decline in sale prices from 2015 to 2016 but half of the counties average sale prices increased from 2015 to 2016.  In January the farmland sales for every Minnesota County were made available to the public. You can find this information online at

This data is from the county assessors and compiled on this website by Professor William F. Lazarus, University of Minnesota. Results indicated statewide Minnesota farmland sales from 2016 were down 2%, from $4,911 per acre in 2015 to $4,813 in 2016. This was down from $4,975 in 2014 average or 1.3% decline from 2014 to 2015. You are able to find average price acre for farmland sales by township on this website since 1990. The assessed values can also be found at this website. Another feature found here is the ability to search for Crop Productivity Index for all the counties in the state as well.

These figures compare very closely with survey data for 14 counties in SW Minnesota where average farmland prices declined from $6,929 in 2015 to $6,751 in 2016 or a 2.6% decline. Prices declined by 8.9% from $7,556 in 2014 to $6,929 in 2015. The high average farmland sale price was in 2013 with an average of $8.466 per acres, which then declined by 20% from 2013 to 2016.

In 2015 average farmland sale prices were below the assessed values by 2.5% for the 14 counties in SW Minnesota. Four counties farmland sales were above the assessed values included Chippewa, Nobles, Watonwan and Yellow Medicine. Lincoln had the lowest farmland sales compared to assessed values with average sale price lower by over 32 percent compared to assessed values. The average CER (Crop Equivalency Rating) was 64 with the highest in Rock County at 90 followed by Jackson at 78 with the lowest in Lac qui Parle at 54. The average sale price divided by the CER was $95.71 paid per CER per acre. This varied from a high of $118.99 in Rock County to a low of $86.35 in Yellow Medicine.

The last three years the average for the fourteen counties in SW Minnesota had declines in farmland values for the first time since collecting the data starting in 1998.  In 2008 farmland price increased 30%, 2009:0.8%, 2010:4.8%, 2011:19.8%, 2012:33.2%, 2013:35.6%, 2014:-10.1%, 2015:-8.9% and 2016:-2.6%. But the change in values has really fluctuated from 2008 to 2016. Before this time, land prices increased more gradually.

Farmland sale prices really varied as well from a high of $19,000 per acre in Rock County to a low $1,297 per acre in Chippewa County. The average of the high farmland sales was $9,158 with average of $6,756 and low of $3,929. Even though corn prices have continued to decline since 2013, farmland sales have not declined as dramatically.

Rental rates have not declined as much as grain prices and rental rates determine the return per acre which would keep farmland prices higher. Other factor affecting farmland sales are interest rates, which have been at historically low rates, with the first small increase in several years last December.

What happens to farm land sale prices will determined by tax rates, interest rates, commodity prices, rental rates other investment opportunities and local competition.

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