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Farm land leasing, land value workshops set

By Staff | Jul 21, 2012

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:


  • Sioux Center in Sioux County (712) 737-4230 at 6:30pm in New Life Church in Sioux Center.


  • Orange City in Sioux County (712) 737-4230 at 9 a.m. at the Extension office.
  • Sergeant Bluff in Woodbury County (712) 276-2157 at 1:30 pm. at the Sergeant Bluff Community Center.
  • Cherokee in Cherokee County (712 225-6196 at 6:30 pm. at the Western Iowa Tech CC Auditorium.


  • Algona in Kossuth County (515) 295-2469 at 1:30 p.m. in the Algona Public Library, room A.
  • Emmetsburg in Palo Alto County (712) 852-2865 at 6:30 p.m. at the Extension office.


  • Storm Lake for Buena Vista and Pocahontas counties (712) 732-5056 at 9 a.m. in the Extension office.
  • Sac City in Sac County (712) 662-7131 at 1:30 p.m. in the Extension office.
  • Carroll in Carroll County (712) 792-2364 at 6:30 pm in the Extension office.


  • Spirit Lake in Dickinson County 712) 336-3488 at 9 a.m. in the Extension office.
  • Estherville in Emmet County (712) 362-3434 t 1:30 p.m. at the Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative.
  • Spencer in Clay County (712) 262-2264 at 6:30 p.m. in the Spencer School Administration Buildng.

AUG. 1

  • Ida Grove in Ida County (712) 364-3003 at 9 a.m. in the Ida Grove Rec Center.
  • Westside in Crawford County (712) 263-4697 at 1:30 p.m. at the Westside Community Building.

AUG. 2

  • Le Mars in Plymouth County (712) 546-7835 at 9 am. in the Le Mars Convention Center.
  • Rock Rapids in Lyon County (712) 472-2576 at 1:30 p.m. in the Forster Community Center.
  • Sanborn for O’Brien and Osceola counties (712) 957-5045 at 6:30 p.m. at the Sanborn Community Center.


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.”

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