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North Dakota pastureland value spikes while rental rates remain stagnant

While North Dakota saw a dramatic increase in pastureland value, rental rates for pastureland remained the same.

ND Pasture
The drought was a significant factor in rental rates of pastureland staying the same, despite the pastureland value jumping in value. Photo taken in Ellendale, North Dakota, in June 2021.
Emily Beal / Agweek
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Pastureland values in North Dakota increased 11.5% from 2021 to 2022, according to the North Dakota Department of Trust Lands.

Last year, the purchase price for pastureland in North Dakota averaged $972 per acre, while in 2022 the price per acre jumped to $1,080, according to the data given by the North Dakota Department of Trust Lands annual survey, which is posted online.

“We saw a pretty sizable increase in pastureland values this year and one thing to mention is that we typically don’t include the Red River Valley region in the averages because there’s just not a lot of pastureland in the Red River Valley, not enough data to be meaningful,” said Bryon Parman, North Dakota State University Extension State Ag Finance specialist.

While the state did see a sizable increase in overall value of pastureland, Parman said the cash rental rate did not follow suit in terms of increasing. This is in part due to the drought that plagued the region over the past year. Due to the lack of rainfall, forage has been greatly impacted, thus making a lot of pastures inadequate for grazing.

NDSU Pastureland
Pastureland values in North Dakota have jumped sharply in the past year, according to NDSU Extension.
Contributed / NDSU Extension

“We saw a double digit percentage wise in pasture values across the state. But with the rental value, we did not. We saw basically a 1% or a 0% change in the rental rates. But yes we saw a big jump in pastureland values across North Dakota,” he said. “When there isn’t available forage to rent, then the rental value is not going to go up. It’s not going to change — or in fact it might even go down — because there isn’t a lot of forage the subsequent year to graze cattle on. So you’re not going to raise the rental rate with the forage availability being less.”

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The average of pastureland rental rates remained the same in 2022 as they were in 2021, with landowners on average renting out their pastures for $21 per acre. However, there were some areas of North Dakota that saw some increases in pastureland rent, such as the north-central, southwest and east-central parts of the state. Parman believes if the region had not experienced a debilitating drought that the rental rates would have increased alongside pastureland value.

"It’s not all that common that values go up and rental rates stay flat, but again we had that unique circumstance of strong cattle prices, plus a drought in our region,” he said.

Emily grew up on a small grains and goat farm in southern Ohio. After graduating from The Ohio State University, she moved to Fargo, North Dakota to pursue a career in ag journalism with Agweek. She enjoys reporting on livestock and local agricultural businesses.
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