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Farmland leasing, values meeting set throughout Northwest Iowa

By Staff | Jul 8, 2013

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.

Northwest Iowa farmland values increased by close to 37 percent during 2012.

And average farmland cash rental rates have increased by nearly 27 percent since 2011 – and more than 51 percent during 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.

These workshops will be held in 13 Northwest Iowa counties during the week of July 29 through Aug. 2.

Melissa O’Rourke, an ISU Extension farm and agribusiness management specialist, will present information about a 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.

Trends in leasing

“Each year I receive numerous contacts from persons who have questions about farmland values and rental rates,” said O’Rourke. “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,” she said, “we have had increased inquiries regarding flexible cash lease methodologies.

“For this reason, we 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,” saidd O’Rourke. “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 encourages anyone with an interest in farmland rental rates to attend these meetings.

“The ideal situation is for these folks to attend together,” she said, “and then sit down at the kitchen table to discuss their farm lease arrangements for the coming year.”

O’Rourke said 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,” she said.

Registration info

A registration fee of $20 per person is charged to cover costs and includes a 90-page workbook. Pre-registration is preferred by calling a local county Extension office a meeting. Walk-ins may attend for a $25 fee at the door.

More information about farmland leasing meetings in Iowa can be found at ISU Extension’s Ag Decision Maker website: www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm

Meeting locations in Northwest Iowa include:


– Sibley in Osceola County. (712) 754-3648, at 9 a.m., at the Osceola Community Hospital Education Room.

– Spirit Lake in Dickinson County (712) 336-3488, at 1:30 p.m., in the Extension office.

– Sioux Center in Sioux County (712) 737-4230, at 6:30 p.m., in the New Life Reformed Church in Sioux Center.


– Sergeant Bluff in Woodbury County (712) 276-2157, at 9 a.m., in the Sergeant Bluff Community Center.

– Orange City in Sioux County (712) 737-4230, at 1:30 p.m., in the Extension office-downstairs.

– Cherokee in Cherokee County (712) 225-6196, at 6:30 p.m., in the Western Iowa Tech Community College Auditorium.


– Emmetsburg in Palo Alto County (712) 852-2865, at 9 a.m., in the Extension office (Old library building).

– Estherville in Emmet County (712) 362-3434, at 1:30 p.m., in the Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative.

– Spencer in Clay County (712) 262-2264, at 6:30 p.m., in the Spencer school ddministration building.

AUG. 1

– Storm Lake in Buena Vista County (712) 732-5056 at 9 a.m., in the Extension office.

– Pocahontas-Pocahontas County (712) 335-3103. at 1:30 p.m., in the Extension office.

– Le Mars in Plymouth County (712) 546-7835, at 6:30 p.m. in the Le Mars Convention Center.

AUG. 2

– Sheldon in O’Brien County (712) 957-5045, at 9 a.m., in the Iowa State Bank meeting room.

– Rock Rapids in Lyon County (712) 472-2576, at 1:30 p.m., in the Forster Community Center.

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