Economic Tidbits

Trends in Cash Rents

Changes in Cash Rents for Pasture 2020 sm

The USDA rental data covers multiple years so changes in cash rents over time can be tracked. Trends can provide insights into the underlying agricultural economy. The maps below show the changes in rents for pasture, dryland, and irrigated land between 2017 and 2020. Please note comparisons could not be made for every county due to the unavailability of data for both years.

Polk and Colfax Counties saw the largest increases in cash rental rates on pasture between 2017 and 2020 of $10/acre, 26 percent and 15 percent respectively. Other counties with increases greater than 20 percent included Keya Paha, Thomas, York, and Banner Counties. Forty-five counties had increases in pasture rents. In contrast, twenty-five counties had decreases. The largest decline occurred in Merrick County, down 17 percent, or $9/acre. Five counties had no change in rents. The average change in rents for pasture across all counties for which data was available was +4.0 percent.

Buffalo, Sherman, and Greeley Counties had the largest increases in rental rates on dryland, 17 percent, or $17/per acre. Valley and Chase Counties also saw increases of at least 10 percent. Just over one-third of counties, or 34 counties, experienced increases between 2017 and 2020. Rents were lower in 21 counties, with Clay County experiencing the largest decline, 11 percent. Six counties saw no change in rental rates. Changes in dryland rental rates averaged +1.0 percent across all counties.

The largest percentage increase in rents on irrigated ground occurred in Kimball County, up 27 percent, while the largest increase in absolute dollars occurred in Sarpy County, $41/acre or 20 percent. Lancaster, Arthur, Scotts Bluff, and Red Willow Counties also had increases of at least 10 percent. In all, rents for irrigated ground increased in 38 counties and 22 counties saw average rents decline. The greatest decrease occurred in Box Butte County, down 12 percent. Three counties saw no change. The average change across all counties was +1.4 percent.

Like land values, rental rates statewide remain stable. The stability statewide though obscures variability at the county level between 2017 and 2020. This could be reflective of local land rental markets or could be simply the nature of the survey and data from year-to-year. The number of counties which had increases in rental rates across all land categories exceeds the number which experienced decreases, at least for the counties where data is available. This could, in part, be reflective of a stabilization and slight improvement of farm income since 2017, much of which is due to increased trade assistance to producers. For pasture ground, the increases in rates might be due to larger cattle numbers and greater competition for pasture. The Nebraska’s beef cow inventory in the last two years exceeds that of a few years ago.

Figure 4. Changes in Cash Rents for Pasture, 2017-2020

Changes in Cash Rents for Pasture 2020 sm

Source: NEFB calculations using USDA NASS data

Figure 5. Changes in Cash Rents for Dryland, 2017-2020

Changes in Cash Rents for Dryland 2020 sm


Source: NEFB calculations using USDA NASS data

Figure 6. Changes in Cash Rents for Irrigated Land, 2017-2020

Changes in Cash Rents for Irrigated Land 2020 sm

Source: NEFB calculations using USDA NASS data

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