Prices and demand for farmland remained strong in the first six months of 2014 in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming, according to a Farm Credit Services of America benchmark farm survey.
Farmland values appear to have stabilized in Iowa, where the market showed signs of softening in the last half of 2013. In Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming, however, land values continue to increase.
The number of auctions remained at 2013 levels in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota after dropping 25% from a historic high in 2012, FCSA said.
Cropland in these three states showed the greatest gains through June 2014. In Wyoming, much of the increase in farm values was driven by strong livestock prices.
Related: Farmland Purchases: Tread Carefully
The data is based on FCSAmerica's semi-annual appraisal of 64 farms identified as benchmarks for land value and real estate trends. The FCSAmerica appraisal team updates values for its benchmark farms based on real estate sales through January 1 and July 1 of each year.
As a whole, the 64 benchmark farms rose in value by 2.4% in the first six months of 2014, FCSA said.
The chart shows the average change in benchmark farm values by state. The number of benchmark farms for each state is shown in parenthesis.
Lower commodity prices had led to reports in early 2014 of more cautious land buyers and declining farmland values.
One of those reports, from the Kansas City Federal Reserve, estimated in February that farmland values in the Midwest would continue to decline in 2014, and many bankers surveyed felt that farmland values had topped out at the end of 2013 and would retreat from their highs.
Another survey of Iowa Farm Realtors earlier this year found that in the six months previous to March 1, Iowa farmland values declined by 5.4%. The group will take another survey in September.
According to FCSA's survey, however, several years of record high profitable production and low interest rates kept the farmland market afloat through June.