Nebraska Farmland Values: Rising farm incomes, a limited number of farms for sale, and strong demand for farmland spurred a dramatic jump in farmland values across the state. Compared to the fourth quarter of last year, Nebraska cropland values shot up more than 17 percent and ranchland values climbed 13 percent. Record sales prices were reported in many counties as farmers and nonfarm investors competed for choice properties. Cash rental rates also rose in the fourth quarter, but not as rapidly as farmland values, increasing around 6 percent.
Nebraska’s agricultural economy profited from rising commodity prices at the end of 2010. Sparked by tight supplies, the summer rally in crop prices gained momentum after fall harvest when Nebraska farmers were selling bumper crops. Cattle prices also strengthened as the year progressed, though livestock profit margins narrowed with higher feed costs. Hog prices weakened amid larger supplies and softer demand for pork. Higher farm incomes and a change in tax depreciation rules prompted a flurry of capital spending in the fourth quarter, especially for equipment upgrades. Farmers also used elevated incomes to pre-pay for crop inputs and reduce debt.