Determining the right farmland rental rate can be both difficult and controversial. But experts advise using impartial, third-party statistics as a starting point, and the National Agricultural Statistics Services, or NASS, has information that can help.

NASS, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has released its annual county-level report for cash rents on irrigated cropland, non-irrigated cropland and pasture for all states except Alaska. The 2008 Farm Bill mandated that NASS provides mean rental rates for all counties with at least 20,000 acres of cropland plus pasture.

One example: Clay County, in western Minnesota, has a mean rental rate of $135 per acre for nonirrigated cropland and a mean rental rate or $19 per acre for pasture.

Rates for irrigated cropland, nonirrigated cropland and pasture aren't given for all counties.

Farms or ranches that historically rent land for cash, on a fee per head of livestock, per pound of gain, by animal unit per month, rented free of charge, or land that includes barns or other buildings, are excluded from the annual survey.

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Some rental rates for the 2020 crop season already are being negotiated. That's especially the case for crops such as wheat that are planted and harvested relatively early. Negotiations on crops that are planted later generally will begin late this calendar year or in early 2020.

A previous state-level summary of 2019 cash rental rates by NASS found that rates are inching higher nationwide, even though commodity prices are poor and farm profits are slim or non-existent. That reflects unattractive returns on competing investments such as certificates of deposit and the healthy financial status of some farmers, experts say.

Look at the survey at: