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Minnesota cropland values decline, cash rents increase

WILLMAR -- After years of steady increases, Minnesota cropland values declined in 2009. However, average cash rental rates for Minnesota cropland continue to increase.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, average cropland values in Minnesota declined by 3.3 percent over the last year, to an average of $2,610 per acre, down from $2,700 per acre in 2008.

The decline in cropland values is partly due to the contraction in the overall economy, which has resulted in less commercial and residential development. Declines in livestock and crop prices may have also tempered previous optimism and demand for cropland purchases by both producers and investors.

Still another possible factor contributing to the lower cropland values is a decrease in the demand for recreational land.

Despite the decline in cropland values, average cash rental rates for Minnesota cropland continued their steady upward trend, increasing by an average of 6.4 percent in 2009, to an average price of $116 per acre, up from $109 per acre in 2008.

Nationally, cropland cash rental rates increased by 5.3 percent in 2009, to an average of $90 per acre, up from $85.50 per acre in 2008.

The Northern Plains region had the highest percentage increase in cash rents, increasing by 7.6 percent to an average of $71 per acre in 2009, up from $66 per acre. Cropland cash rents in the Corn Belt region increased by $7 per acre, to an average of $146 per acre in 2009.

The Corn Belt and Northern Plains regions together account for nearly half of the cash rented cropland acreage in the nation.

The major corn and soybean producing states of Illinois, Indiana and Iowa experienced cash rental rate increases of 4.3, 4.4 and 5.9 percent respectively. Illinois, Indiana and Iowa cropland cash rents averaged $170, $141 and $180 per acre respectively.

The cropland value estimates and cash rental rates provided by USDA are based primarily on surveys conducted during the first two weeks of June.

To view the entire report, visit the National Agricultural Statistics Service website at:

Livestock Indemnity Program applications being accepted

The 2008 farm bill authorized several disaster assistance programs, including programs designed to assist livestock producers. One such program is the Livestock Indemnity Program, which compensates producers for livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather conditions that occurred on or after Jan. 1, 2008.

No secretarial or presidential disaster declarations are required to qualify for benefits. However, the livestock loss must be directly related to an adverse weather condition. Examples of adverse weather conditions include blizzards, tornados, lightning, floods, and extreme hot or cold temperatures.

Livestock losses due to disease may also qualify for benefits if the disease is related to or exacerbated by an eligible adverse weather condition.

Drought is not considered an eligible adverse weather event except when associated with anthrax, a condition that occurs because of drought and results in the death of eligible livestock.

Eligible livestock include beef cattle, dairy cattle, buffalo, beefalo, elk, swine, goat and poultry.

All types and weight ranges of eligible livestock qualify for benefits. Payment rates will be calculated on a per-head basis according to livestock type and weight range.

Producers that had qualifying livestock death losses during the 2008 calendar year need to apply for benefits at their local Farm Service Agency office by Sept. 13.

Producers with death losses between Jan. 1 and July 12, 2009, need to file a notice of loss at their FSA office by Sept. 13. If livestock losses occur after July 12, producers need to file a notice of loss within 30 days of death.

Wes Nelson is executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.