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Survey shows North Dakota cropland sales rose 28% in 2021 to highest level ever

The North Dakota chapter of the North Dakota chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, releases its annual report of the actual “arms-length farmland sales its members worked on for clients. Non-irrigated cropland sales rose by 28%, exceeding the 2013 record 7.4% or by $219 per acre. Cropland rental rates were up, but are expected to hold steady in 2022

Line chart showing an increase in average land values in North Dakota to the highest point on record.
A North Dakota farm appraiser’s group said sales they handled in the state increased to $3,172, an average of 28% in 2021. This exceeds the level of $2,953 in 2013, a year influenced by high grain prices after a major drought in Iowa.
Courtesy American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, North Dakota chapter

FARGO, N.D. – North Dakota farmland values increased by 28% in 2021 to an average of $3,172 per acre statewide, according to an annual survey by an appraiser group. That’s the highest since the $2,953 high set in 2013, beating the old record by $219 per acre.

Land rents also rose heading into 2022, but not as much as land values, and both are expected to “hold steady” into the coming year, according to an annual survey of a farmland appraisal group. This 25th year the North Dakota chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers & Rural Appraisers have compiled a value and cash rent survey.

The non-profit professional organization chapter has about 50 members. The survey, produced through cooperation among competitors, includes actual sales and land rents, but counts only “arms-length” transactions.

Land rents are not expected to rise much “due to the high input costs,” especially fertilizer, which has doubled in price. “The outlook for profits in farming this year is expected to be down from 2021,” said Terry Longtin, an accredited farm manager with Farmers National Company. Longtin, from the northern Red River Valley, was tapped to write a “market conditions” summary for the report.

A year ago, farmers had just seen commodity markets in cash and futures jump in late 2020, according to the report. Land values increased, but didn’t pressure rents to rise as most leases were in place for 2021, the report said.

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Land values increased until planting time, fueled by commodity markets that rose through 2021, better yields than expected and continued low loan interest rates. Better commodity prices helped “even in the drought areas,” where there were increased claims against crop insurance, which is tied to commodity prices. Areas with claims in 2021, due to drought “received quite high dollars per acre” as compared to claims in previous years, the report said. Non-irrigated cropland sale prices were through the whole calendar year.

Here are cropland price and rental details in dollars paid in several regions in the state. All values are per acre, with notable figures in boldface.

Map showing five regions studied for ag land value and and rents by an appraiser society.
The map of North Dakota indicates the areas of North Dakota included in an annual land value and rent rate survey, completed by the North Dakota chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers & Rural Appraisers. Some Red River Valley counties are split east-west to account for land variation.
Courtesy American Society of Farm Managers & Rural Appraisers, North Dakota chapter

RRV up 28%

(East parts of all counties from Pembina to Richland)

Prices in 2021 increased to an average of $5,593 per acre, up 28% from an average of $4,200 in 2020. That’s 3% higher than the peak in 2013. Average land prices in the region declined every year since then except for 2018, when they rebounded by 19 percentage points..

The survey counted 43 sales in east Walsh County, followed by 38 in east Grand Forks County; Traill, 34; east Cass, 30; Pembina, 29; Richland, 18.

Highest average county mean prices were posted in eastern Walsh County, with $6,220; Pembina, $5,810; Richland, $5,670, and eastern Cass, $5,600. Lowest average mean prices were eastern Grand Forks, $4,380, and Traill, $4,680. (The mean is calculated by adding the dollar values in a set of sales and dividing by the number of sales.)

High individual transaction prices were topped by eastern Walsh County, $11,300 per acre, Pembina County, $8,915, and Richland, $7,748 per acre. Low prices posted were $2,326 per acre in east Grand Forks County and $2,550 in Pembina County.

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Cash rents (low/high) ranges Cass, $100/$250; east Grand Forks, $80/$260; Pembina, $40/$300; Richland, $110/$250; Traill, $85/$270; and Walsh, $70/$350.

021422.AG.NDFarmlandSales03
Land value sale averages in 2021 were highest in the Red River Valley, at $5,593, and lowest in the north central/northwest, at $2,012. The largest percentage jump came in the southwest, which was up 53% from 2020, according to the annual survey by the American Society of Farm Managers & Rural Appraisers, North Dakota chapter. Courtesy American Society of Farm Managers & Rural Appraisers, North Dakota chapter

NE up 35%

(Parts of 12 counties west of Red River Valley, to Towner, Benson, Wells counties).

Prices in 2021 increased to an average of $2,782 per acre, up 35% from an average of $2,053 in 2020. That’s less than 1% ahead of 2013 levels. Land values since 2013 declined every year but 2017 and 2018.

Most numerous sales were in western Grand Forks, 48 (the most of any county in the survey, when added to 38 from east Grand Forks County ); Foster, 39; and Wells, 34. The three fewest county sales were Griggs, 8; Eddy, 9, and Benson and Nelson, both with 14.

Highest average mean county prices in the region were western Walsh County, $3,970 per acre; Foster, $3.860; and western Grand Forks, $3,580. Lowest average mean prices in the region were Griggs, $1,750; Benson, $2,100; and Nelson $2,120.

Highest priced individual transactions among the counties were in western Walsh, $9,925; western Grand Forks, $7,268; and Foster, $5,732. The lowest transactions among the counties were $800 in Ramsey; $866 in Eddy, and $1,000 in Benson.

Cash rent low/highs by county: Benson, $45/$140; Cavalier, $70/$120; Eddy, $50/$130; Foster, $70/$200; western Grand Forks, $40/$155; Griggs, $50/$130; Nelson, $50/$100; Ramsey, $50/125; Steele, $50/$110; western Walsh, $50/$150; Wells, $50/$140.

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Chart shows regions of North Dakota and land sale trends over the past 10 years.
Regional differences in land value changes in 2021 included a 53% increase in the southwest part of North Dakota. Today’s $2,402 per acre value is 20% higher than the previous peak in 2014, at $2,009 an acre.
Courtesy American Society of Farm Managers & Rural Appraisers, North Dakota chapter

SE up 14%

(12 counties/partial counties west of the Red River Valley, to the Missouri River and northwest to Burleigh County.) Prices in 2021 averaged $3,270 per acre, up 14% from the average of $2.869 in 2020. That’s 1% below the peak, which happened in 2014. Prices have slipped annually since then, except for 2018.

Most sales per county were topped by in Stutsman, 36; Dickey, 26; LaMoure, 19. Fewest were in McIntosh, 2; Kidder, Burleigh, and Logan, all with 5 sales.

Highest average mean county prices in the region were Dickey, $4,780; Emmons, $4,760; and Ransom, $4,320. Lowest mean average prices were Kidder, $1,720, McIntosh, $1.950; and Logan, $2,070.

Highest individual tract prices were reported in Emmons, $7,476; Dickey, $7,309; western Cass, $7,158; Stutsman, $6,574. Lowest sale prices paid for cropland reported in Stutsman, $419; Emmons and Kidder, both $920; and Logan, $1,200.

Cropland cash rent low/high ranges by county were: Barnes, $60/$175; Burleigh, $75/$135; west Cass, $80/$185; Dickey, $80/$300; Emmons, $69/$260; Kidder, $26/$115; LaMoure, $85/$190; Logan, $60/$75; McIntosh, $45/$75; Ransom, $80$200; Sargent, $80/$160; and Stutsman, $65/$230.

SW up 53%

(13 counties of the Missouri River, north to Dunn, Billings and Golden Valley counties.)

Prices in 2021 are up 53%, to $2,402 per acre, compared to $1,569 paid in 2020, the biggest regional increase in the state. Despite the drought, this is almost 20% greater than the previous peak that came in 2014.

Counties with the most numerous land sales were Stark, 18; Adams, 12; Grant, 11; Morton, 10. Dunn and Sioux counties had zero sales and Bowman and Golden Valley counties each posted 1 sale.

Counties with the most numerous tract sales were Morton and Grant, 7 sales; Mercer, 5; and Adams, 4. (Seven out of 13 counties had 2 sales or fewer, and Slope, Sioux and Dunn counties had zero sales.)

Highest average mean county prices in the region were Stark, $2,640; Mercer, $2,300, and Morton and Slope counties, both $2,120. Lowest average prices were in Adams, $1,320 per acre and Bowman, $1,440.

Highest individual tract sales reported were in Stark County, $4,607; Mercer, $3.689; Morton, $2,834 and Hettinger, $2,649. Lowest individual tract sales were Grant County, $920; Adams, $1,050.

Cropland cash rent low/high ranges were: Adams $32/$60; Bowman, $35/$35; Dunn, $10/$30; Grant County, $60/$80; Hettinger, $35/$95; Mercer, $45/$130; Morton, $53/$110; Oliver, $50/$70; Slope, $32/$40; and Stark, $48/$160.

NC/NW up 16%

(13 counties west from Rolette, Pierce and Sheridan counties to the state line in Divide, McKenzie Counties)

Average cropland sale prices in 2021 increased 16% to $2,012, despite being in the grips of extreme drought. Land prices now are nearly 8% higher than they were in 2013, in the midst of a national drought. Prices had declined annually every year since. Land prices are nominally lower in the North Central/Northwest than any other region in the state.

The highest mean average sales were in Mountrail County, $3,320; Ward, $2,450; and Renville, $2,130. Lowest mean averages were Divide County, $1,420, Burke, $1,460.

Highest individual tract sales per county were Bottineau, 31; Divide, 24; and Burke, 22. Fewest tracks sold per county were McKenzie, 0; Rolette, 3; and Williams, 8.

Cropland value low/high ranges by county were: Bottineau, $960/$2,600; Burke, $725/$2,436; Divide, $829/$2,000; McHenry, $1,225/$3,242; McLean, $1,150/$4,228; Mountrail, $1,154/$5,542; Pierce, $1,290/$3,407; Renville, $1,935/$2,390; Rolette, $1,150/$2,581; Sheridan, $1,063/$2,370; Ward, $1,750/$3,631, and Williams, $1,225/$1,741.

Cropland rental rates ranges by county: Bottineau $25/$100; Burke, $25/$70; Divide, $25/$70; McHenry, $40/$110; McLean, $45/$95; Mountrail, $25/$80; Pierce, $40/120; Renville, $28/$110; Rolette, $40/$110; Sheridan, $45/90; Ward, $25/$130; and Williams, $25/$70.

Related Topics: NORTH DAKOTAAGRICULTURE
Mikkel Pates is an agricultural journalist, creating print, online and television stories for Agweek magazine and Agweek TV.
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