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Iowa farmland values decline 6 percent

Staff Writer |
The average value of Iowa farmland declined 6 percent over the past year, and this is the first time those values have dropped for three years in a row since the 1980s farm crisis.

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The Des Moines Register reports that Iowa State University estimates that Iowa farmland is now worth about $7,183 per acre on average.

That's 17.5 percent lower than the record set in 2013 of $8,716 per acre when crop prices were higher.

But assistant Iowa State University economics professor Wendong Zhang says the state is unlikely to see another crisis soon because farmers are generally in better financial shape.

Most Iowa farmers increased their financial reserves during the boom that preceded the current drop in crop prices. And Zhang said government safety nets are better than they were in the 1980s and interest rates remain low.

Plus, the overall debt level for farmers remains lower.

"For a pessimist, there are reasons to worry, especially for landowners . or producers who are over-leveraged," Zhang said. "For an optimist, this decline is still modest, and the probability of a replay of the 1980s farm crisis is low."

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