Farmland workshops offered at WITCC on Tuesday

Friday, July 26, 2013

Leasing and land values to key informative session

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 over 51 percent during the past five years.

These are just a few reasons why Iowa State University Extension and Outreach offers 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 August 2. A workshop will be held on Tuesday in Cherokee at the Western Iowa Tech Community College Auditorium at 6:30 p.m.

Melissa O'Rourke, ISU Extension Farm & 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.

"Each year I receive numerous contacts from persons who have questions about farmland values and rental rates," says O'Rourke.

"Due to the increases in land values and cash rents, there is definitely a heightened interest in farm leasing arrangements," O'Rourke noted. "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 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," stated 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. "Both farmland owners and producer-tenants should attend. In fact, the ideal situation is for these folks to attend together and then sit down at the kitchen table to discuss their farm lease arrangements for the coming year."

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."

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

More information about this and other farmland leasing meetings in Iowa can be found at ISU Extension's Ag Decision Maker website:

Area meeting locations, dates, times and contact phone numbers include the following:

Monday, July 29

* Sibley-Osceola County, Call 712-754-3648

9 a.m.: Osceola Community Hospital Education Room

* Spirit Lake-Dickinson County

Call 712-336-3488

1:30 p.m.: Extension Office

* Sioux Center-Sioux County Call 712-737-4230

6:30pm: New Life Reformed in Sioux Center

Tuesday, July 30

* Sergeant Bluff-Woodbury County Call 712-276-2157

9:00am: Sergeant Bluff Community Center

* Orange City-Sioux County Call 712-737-4230

1:30pm: Extension Office-Downstairs

* Cherokee-Cherokee County Call 712-225-6196

6:30pm: Western Iowa Tech CC Auditorium

Wednesday, July 31

* Emmetsburg-Palo Alto County Call 712-852-2865

9:00am: Extension Office (Old Library Bldg)

* Estherville-Emmet County Call 712-362-3434

1:30pm: Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative

* Spencer-Clay County Call 712-262-2264

6:30pm: Spencer School Admin Bldg

Thursday, August 1

* Storm Lake-Buena Vista County Call 712-732-5056

9am: Extension Office

* Pocahontas-Pocahontas County Call 712-335-3103

1:30pm: Extension Office--Pocahontas

* Le Mars-Plymouth County Call 712-546-7835

6:30pm: Le Mars Convention Center

Friday, August 2

* Sheldon-O'Brien County Call 712-957-5045

9:00am: Iowa State Bank meeting room

* Rock Rapids-Lyon County Call 712-472-2576

1:30pm: Forster Community Center

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