Real estate prices have been soaring over the past few years, and farmland is no exception.
The 2022 Farm Real Estate Survey from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that prices surged an average of 16% in the state over the prior year to $3,360 per acre.
That was the largest year-over-year increase since 2014 and the highest-ever non-inflation-adjusted statewide land value in the survey’s history.
Low interest rates were a main driver in the increases, just as they have been with home prices and prices for other types of real estate. But farmland values also were boosted by higher commodity prices.
“Many operations improved their financial positions in the last year, despite rising machinery costs and input expenses,” said Jim Jansen, an agricultural economist with Nebraska Extension who co-authored the survey and report with Jeffrey Stokes, a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics.
The east region, which includes Lancaster County, had the most expensive farmland, with an overall average of $8,110 an acre and a high of $10,920 for center pivot-irrigated cropland.
You can see the full survey at https://cap.unl.edu/realestate.
Economic pain for state’s animal industry
Agriculture is doing well now, but just a couple of years ago, things were looking pretty iffy.
When COVID-19 first hit in early 2020, it threw a wrench into the livestock side of things.
Many meat and poultry processing plants had to shut down partially or completely due to outbreaks, which gummed up the entire supply chain.
Nebraska was not spared from the economic pain, and a recent study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln shows just how much damage was done.
According to the study, written by professors Elliott Dennis and Brad Lubben, cash receipts for Nebraska animals and animal products fell nearly 15% in 2020 compared with their 2010-2019 average.
All the major meat and animal categories saw declines, with receipts for meat animals falling 15% and receipts for poultry and eggs dropping more than 22%.
There were a couple of categories that saw huge growth, however. One of them was farm chickens, which saw its receipts nearly triple. That could be related to the backyard chickens craze that spiked in the early months of the pandemic.
The other category that saw big growth was aquaculture, which according to the study, consists completely of farm-raised trout in Nebraska. It saw growth of more than 120%.
Among the best of the worst on gas prices
Gas prices have been in the news quite a bit lately, especially with the national average hitting record highs earlier this month.
Prices certainly haven’t been cheap in Nebraska, but the increases here have not been as bad as they have in many other states.
As of Thursday, the average price for regular unleaded in the state was $3.87 a gallon. That was lower than in all but four states, according to AAA.
Nebraska typically ranks somewhere in the middle of the pack for prices. It’s usually lower than many of the Western states and those in the Rust Belt and Northeast, but higher than most of the states in the Sunbelt and some bordering states, including Iowa and South Dakota.
That hasn’t been the case over the past few weeks, however. Nebraska has consistently had lower prices than those states. In fact, the only states that have had lower prices consistently lately are Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
I asked Patrick DeHaan, lead petroleum analyst at GasBuddy, a couple of weeks ago if he had any explanation as to why Nebraska was suddenly one of the cheapest states in which to buy gas. Here’s what he said in an email:
“There’s been a lot of changes on the normal leader boards for low prices as some states see prices go up faster than others. I expect that we will get back to more what is normal once things start to settle down. Rising gas prices are like running a race. Some places will rise faster and finish earlier while others will go slower and take longer. But we are all headed to the same place.”
I assume that “same place” he was referring to was record prices. Luckily for Nebraskans, prices have yet to reach the records that were set back in July 2008.
So, I guess, enjoy it while it lasts — if you can find any enjoyment in paying almost $4 a gallon.
Listing the lists
Regular readers of this column know I like to end it with a rundown of recent rankings of Lincoln and/or Nebraska in national reports. The latest:
* Tied for seventh-fastest home sales among midsize cities (Porch)
* State with the eighth-highest property taxes (WalletHub)
Most valuable crops grown in Nebraska
Most valuable crops grown in Nebraska
#3. Hay & haylage
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