More than half of Iowa farmland is rented. In some Iowa locations, as much as 70 percent of the land is farmed by farmers who don't own the land.
Iowa farmland values increased by as much as 35 percent during 2011. Farmland cash rental rates in Iowa increased for the 2012 crop year by nearly 20 percent over 2011, and up to 55 percent over the past five years.
These are just a few reasons why Iowa State University Extension has scheduled workshops designed to answer questions that land owners and tenants have about farmland leasing and land values.
Workshops will be held in 17 locations in west and northwest Iowa counties from Tuesday through Aug. 2. These include:
A registration fee of $20 per person is charged to cover costs and includes a 90-page workbook. Attendees may pre-register by calling the host county prior to the meeting. Walk-ins may attend for a $25 fee at the door.
More information about these and other farmland leasing meetings in Iowa can be found at ISU Extension's Ag Decision Maker website www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm
Melissa O'Rourke, an ISU Extension farm and agribusiness management specialist, will present information about a wide range of topics related to farmland values and leasing.
O'Rourke is a licensed attorney with extensive experience in working with farm, ranch and agribusiness interests.
In several counties - Ida, Carroll, Crawford, Monona and Sac - workshop presentations will include Shane Ellis, a new farm and agribusiness management specialist for ISU Extension based in Carroll.
Trends in leasing
"I've had numerous contacts this year from people who have questions about farmland values and rental rates," O'Rourke said. "Due to the increases in land values and cash rents, there is definitely a heightened interest in farm leasing arrangements.
"We expect significant attendance at these meetings."
O'Rourke noted several other trends in farmland ownership and leasing.
"Due to the volatility of land and commodity markets, we have seen increased inquiries regarding flexible cash lease methodologies. For this reason, our 2012 workshops will have more focus on these kinds of arrangements. We will work through examples of various strategies for flexible cash leases."
Another area O'Rourke noted is the increasing age of farmland owners.
"ISU Extension research indicates that the average age of farmland owners continues to rise," O'Rourke said. "Fifty-five percent of Iowa's farmland is owned by people over the age of 65, while 28 percent of the land is owned by individuals over age 75.
"We also find that children and surviving spouses of farmers are less likely to continue operating the farm themselves. That's a major reason why farmland leasing continues to increase."
O'Rourke explained that workshop attendees will receive a comprehensive workbook packed with information about land values, leasing and different types of farm lease arrangements. "Everyone should leave with a heightened understanding of farmland leasing."