Each year USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) surveys farms to get land value information on cropland and pastureland. The annual survey also takes into account an estimated value of all land and buildings. NASS compares the survey results to the previous year’s results to determine the estimated percent change.
Nationally, the value of all U.S. farmland increased from 2014-15 (figure 1). For cropland, the value increased by .7 percent ($30) per acre in 2015 from 2014 (figure 1). Nationally, average cropland values have only decreased in one year (2009) in the past 10 years. Pastureland also increased in value by 2.3 percent, or $30 per acre in 2015 from the previous year. Farm real estate value, a measurement of all land and buildings on farms, rose 2.37 percent per acre, or by $70 in 2014-15. As with cropland, the U.S. average farm real estate value has only decreased during one period over the past 10 years.
How did Maryland and Delaware do compared to the rest of the country? We did not see the dramatic increases as the U.S. average, and in some cases actually saw slight decreases in farmland values from the previous year. In Maryland, farm real estate average value per acre decreased by $100 per acre, or 1.43 percent in 2015 (figure 2). Delaware actually saw no change in farm real estate values in 2015 from 2014 (figure 3). Over the last 10 years, average farm real estate values are 21 percent lower than highs in 2007 (table 2). Nationally over the same period of time, farm real estate average values per acre are at highs (figure 1). Over the same ten-year period, Delaware has seen farm real estate values decrease by 31 percent from their highs in 2007 (figure 3).
Looking at average cropland values, Maryland saw average value per acre remain constant at $6,470 per acre from 2014 to 2015 (figure 2). This average does not distinguish between irrigated and non-irrigated cropland. Delaware, on the other hand, saw a 0.9-percent increase, or $70 per acre for the average value of cropland. Over the last 10 years, cropland average values per acre decreased in in Maryland and are down 30 percent in 2015 from high average per acre values reached in 2007 (figure 2). Similar to Maryland, Delaware saw high per acre cropland values in 2007 and have yo-yoed around over that period of time (figure 3).
Pasture values in Maryland remained unchanged from 2014 to 2015 (figure 2). Pastureland average values in Maryland decreased by 28 percent from a high in 2006 (figure 2).
In Maryland and Delaware, we did not see percent increases in farmland prices from 2014 to 2015 as nationally. Values continue to increase nationally and in Maryland and Delaware in 2016? Farm incomes and commodity prices are projected to be lower this year which could potentially impact farmland prices. But that same prediction was made last year, and farmland values increased this year. At the same time, other parties may look at continuing to invest in farmland and this may help to keep values up. Only time will tell moving forward if farmland values will increase in 2016.