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Iowa Land Prices Fall as Largest-Ever Harvest Nears

PHOTO: Wild Wood Farms has grown to include 150 members in its community-supported agriculture vegetable operation. Photo courtesy of Wild Wood Farms.
PHOTO: Wild Wood Farms has grown to include 150 members in its community-supported agriculture vegetable operation. Photo courtesy of Wild Wood Farms.
September 23, 2014

SOLON, Iowa - As what is expected to be the largest-ever Iowa harvest of corn and soybeans nears, the value of cropland in the Hawkeye State is on the decline.

The latest survey from the Iowa Realtors Land Institute shows the average price for an acre of Iowa farmland is now to about $8,000, down nearly nine percent from just one year ago. Despite the drop, Iowa land prices remain near record highs and present a major barrier to beginning farmers, says Kate Edwards, who owns Wild Woods Farm in Johnson County.

"I'm entering into my fifth year of farming and I'm still on rented ground," she says. "In the future I would like to buy land, but it's still a bit cost-prohibitive to go that direction."

According to the Iowa Realtors Land Institute, factors contributing to current farmland values include lower commodity prices and increasing interest rates.

There are, however, a variety of programs to help those entering the field of agriculture, including the Savings Incentive Program from Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI). Edwards says it offers a network of farming peers, along with matching funds of up to $2,400 to go toward land payments or to purchase equipment.

"I was involved in the program at a very transformative time in my business, and the support I gained from the mentorship and from PFI helped me become a successful farmer," says Edwards. "I feel like without that support I would be way further behind in my business, as well as my farming knowledge."

The application deadline for the Savings Incentive Program is October 3rd, with details at the Practical Farmers of Iowa website.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA