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Today's cash crop: farm land

North Dakota State Roundup

July 1, 2004

Today's cash crop: farm land

Farm owners in North Dakota are licking their chops, thanks to the largest increase in property values in 25 years.

Over the past year, cropland values increased 15 percent on average over the whole state, with some areas gaining as much as 50 percent, according to a survey conducted in January by the North Dakota Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers.

A North Dakota Agricultural Statistics Service survey in January showed the biggest jump since 1979.

One reason for the increase is that some farm land is being acquired by nonfarm investors, lured by low interest rates and the potential high rate of return compared to other assets. For example, sportsmen from North Dakota and beyond have begun to acquire property in premium hunting spots. Large recent harvests of corn and soybeans, along with strong prices, have contributed as well.

Land rents, on the other hand, have risen more moderately in the past year, with the biggest increases at 4.5 percent, according to the Statistics Service.

Joe Mahon

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