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A Look at 2016 Local and National Land Values

Updated: Jul 1, 2020

Field in front of a farm (Photo by Edwin Remsberg).

Each year USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) surveys farms to get land value information on cropland and pastureland. The annual survey 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 percentage change.

Nationally, the value of all U.S. farmland decreased from 2015-16 (table 1). For cropland, the value decreased by 1 percent ($40) per acre in 2016 from 2015. This is the first time national average cropland values have decreased since 2009 and only the second decrease in the past 10 years. Pastureland held steady at $1,330/per acre from 2015 to 2016. Farm real estate value, a measurement of all land and buildings on farms, decreased 0.30 percent per acre, or by $10 in 2015-16. As with cropland, this is the second time U.S. average farm real estate value have decreased in the past 10 years.

Table 1: 2001 Through 2016 National Average Value Per Acre of Farmland shows an upward trend (Source: USDA-NASS).

How did Maryland and Delaware do compared to the rest of the country? We did not see decreases like the U.S. average, and in many cases there were actually slight increases in farmland values from the previous year. In Maryland, farm real estate average value per acre increased by $60 per acre, or 0.09 percent in 2016 (table 2). Delaware also saw an increase by $220 per acre or 2.7 percent in farm real estate values in 2016 (table 3).

Table 2: 2006 Through 2016 Average Value Per Acre of Maryland Farmland shows a downward trend (Source: USDA-NASS).

National average farm real estate values per acre have increased by almost 50 percent over the last 10 years (table 1). Over the same period, average farm real estate values in Maryland were almost 17 percent lower than highs in 2007 (table 2). At the same time, Delaware has seen farm real estate values decrease by 21.50 percent from their highs in 2007 (table 3).

Looking at average cropland values, Maryland saw average value per acre increased to $6,530 per acre in 2016. Delaware, on the other hand, saw a 3.1-percent increase, or $250 per acre for the average value of cropland. Over the last 10 years, cropland average values per acre decreased in Maryland, down 22 percent in 2016 from high average per acre values reached in 2007. Similar to Maryland, Delaware saw high per acre cropland values in 2007 which are down 22 percent from that high.

Table 3: 2006 Through 2016 Average Value Per Acre of Delaware Farmland shows a downward trend (Source: USDA-NASS).

Pasture values in Maryland increased from 2015-16 by $100 per acre. Pastureland average values in Maryland are down 22 percent from a high in 2006. Nationally, average pastureland values are up 39 percent from a low in 2007.

In Maryland and Delaware, we did not see the same decreases in farmland prices in 2016, but did see slight increases. Will values continue to decrease nationally and increase in Maryland and Delaware in 2017? Farm incomes and commodity prices are again projected to be lower this year, which could impact farmland prices. But that same prediction was made last year, and farmland values increased in both states. Only time will tell if farmland values will increase in 2017.

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