According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Minnesota cropland values and cash rental rates continued their strong and steady climb upward in 2012.
Based on a survey conducted during the first two weeks of June, USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service found that average cropland values in Minnesota increased by 24.6 percent in 2012, to an average of $4,050 per acre, up from $3,250 per acre in 2011.
Minnesota's increase in cropland value far exceeded the increase in average cropland values for the United States, which increased by 14.5 percent in 2012, to an average of $3,550 per acre, up from $3,100 per acre in 2011.
In the Northern Plains and Corn Belt regions, average cropland values increased 30.4 and 18.5 percent, respectively. However, cropland values in the Southeast region decreased by 3.8 percent.
Meanwhile, average cash rental rates for Minnesota cropland also continued their long-term upward trend, increasing by an average of 11.8 percent, to an average price of $151 per acre, up from $135 per acre in 2011.
The 2012 average cash rental rates for Illinois and Indiana cropland are $212 and $175 per acre, respectively.
The three states with the highest per acre average cash rental rates in 2012 were: California - $267; Iowa - $235; and Hawaii - $216.
The 2012 county average cash rental rate estimates will be released by USDA on Sept. 7.
Electronic ad service assists farmers
to buy or sell hay
"Hay Net" is an Internet-based electronic ad service that can assist farmers and ranchers by sharing 'Need Hay' or 'Have Hay' ads online.
Provided by USDA's Farm Service Agency, Hay Net operates on a secure online environment that protects the participants' privacy through stringent security measures.
Hay Net users can use a personal computer to submit Have Hay or Need Hay ads, or view existing ads.
All users who want to post an ad online will need to complete a one-time registration process that is easy and requires only creating a user ID and password, and a confirmation of your email address.
Anyone just wishing to view ads will not need to complete the registration process.
Users that place ads on Hay Net are asked to keep their ads current and up to date. Ads will automatically be removed after a period of 13 months.
To learn more about the registration process, or to view ads that are currently listed, go to the Farm Service Agency's homepage at www.fsa.usda.gov. Once there, on the top banner click the segment titled "Online Services" and then look for the link to Hay Net.
Farm Service Agency and Second Harvest Heartland collaborate to reduce hunger
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency and Second Harvest Heartland are collaborating in an effort to connect Minnesota farmers with the regional food bank network.
The partnership has the unique ability to connect individual farmers who may have excess produce that could be donated to food banks, with Second Harvest Heartland.
The Farm Service Agency has offices in 74 Minnesota counties where farmers regularly do business. Meanwhile, Second Harvest Heartland, the largest of six food bank organizations serving Minnesota, has an efficient and effective distribution system to get fresh produce from the farm to those in need.
Second Harvest Heartland and five other Minnesota Feeding America food banks have developed the "From Harvest to Home" initiative. The program collects locally grown, surplus produce from Minnesota farmers and then distributes the produce through their network of food shelves, soup kitchens and a variety of other programs that serve those in need.
Over the last several years, the food banks have collectively received and distributed more than 5 million pounds of produce through initiatives similar to "From Harvest to Home." But while the number of pounds collected has increased, so has the need for fresh, nutritious food.
To help those in need, additional information is available by contacting your local Farm Service Agency office, or by visiting Second Harvest Heartland's website at www.2harvest.org.
Wes Nelson is executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.