BOISE — The value of cropland in Idaho continued to increase this year despite a dip in commodity prices.
According to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, the average value of all cropland in Idaho was $3,040 per acre in 2014, a 6.7 percent increase over 2013.
That followed a 10.5 percent increase in the value of Idaho cropland in 2013 and a 4.5 percent increase in 2012.
The average value of irrigated cropland in Idaho increased 8.5 percent to $4,600 in 2014.
The value of irrigated Idaho cropland rose 5 percent in 2013 and 5.8 percent in 2012.
“I think that’s a pretty accurate depiction (of cropland values in Idaho),” said Declo farmer Mark Darrington. “High commodity prices are what drove it. They’re not necessarily looking at the correction in commodity prices right now.”
University of Idaho agricultural economist Paul Patterson said there is always a bit of a lag between when commodity prices start to dip and when there is an adjustment in land values.
This year’s increase in Idaho cropland values “is a reflection of multiple years of some very good commodity prices for a lot of the major crops we grow here,” he said.
“A lot of this has been farmers buying farmland from other farmers and there has also been some outside money come in looking at land as an investment vehicle,” said UI ag economist C. Wilson Gray. “Rather than the stock market, they were looking at real estate as an option.”
Some farmers in Southern Idaho have sold their land to investors and are renting it back on a long-term basis, Darrington said.
High demand for farmland, coupled with a relative scarcity of available cropland, have pushed values up, said Reagon Hatch, director of acquisition for Agricultural Co. of America.
“You’ve got all this demand and no supply,” he said. “Those increases in value have been real.”
Hatch said a correction in Idaho cropland values can be expected, but it won’t be huge.
“You’re going to see a correction in the value of irrigated cropland in southern Idaho but it’s not going to be any implosion,” he said.
Darrington said he doesn’t expect a big dip in land prices, “but I am looking for them to flatten out.”
According to NASS, the average value of cropland in Washington and Oregon trails that in Idaho by about $500 an acre. That’s due to the fact that a much higher percentage of Idaho’s cropland is irrigated.
More than 3 million acres of Idaho’s total 4.5 million acres of harvested cropland are irrigated, according to the 2012 Census of Ag.
Only 1.55 million of Washington’s 4.3 million acres of harvested cropland are irrigated and 1.26 million of Oregon’s 2.96 million acres are irrigated.