Have Farmland Values Built-in an Interest Rate Rise

The FarmDoc Daily issued a report earlier this week on how interest rates might affect farmland values.  A rise in interest rates usually negatively impacts farmland values or other bond-like investments.  For example, if a farm generates $300 per acre of net income and it is valued at $10,000, this equates to a 3% capitalization rate.  If the investor now requires a 6% rate of return, the value of the farmland would drop from $10,000 to about $5,000 (over time).

The FarmDoc report’s Figure 2 showed how farmland values in Illinois from 1970-2015 correlated to the “expected” farmland value based on interest rates for each year.  During 1970-2011, the correlation between these values were very close.  Actual values were higher in 1978-1985 when interest rates were high and crop returns were low.  This same result also occurred in 2005-2009 when the ethanol boom first started and interest rates had started to rise and then dropped rapidly during the recession.

Beginning in 2011-12, actual farmland values dropped behind expected values based on actual interest rate expectations for values.  For example, in 2012, the expected value of Illinois farmland was about $12,000 and actual values were about $7,000.  Expected values bounced between $9,000 and $12,000 (where they are at now) from 2011-2016, whereas, actual values are currently around $7,000.

Therefore, this indicates that there may be a substantial cushion to farmland values if interest rates do rise.  Investors may have already “built-in” an expected rise in future interest rates and farmland values may not change much until interest rates rise substantially.  Again, this is a theory and only time will tell on the reality.

We will keep you posted.

  • Principal
  • CliftonLarsonAllen
  • Yakima, Washington
  • 509-823-2920

Paul Neiffer is a certified public accountant and business advisor specializing in income taxation, accounting services, and succession planning for farmers and agribusiness processors. Paul is a principal with CliftonLarsonAllen in Yakima, Washington, as well as a regular speaker at national conferences and contributor at agweb.com. Raised on a farm in central Washington, he has been immersed in the ag industry his entire life, including the last 30 years professionally. In fact, Paul drives a combine each summer for his cousins and that is what he considers a vacation.

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