Monday, April 22, 2013

Stearns County farmland prices are rising

Hard to believe that it is time for planting when the ground is covered with 6 more inches of fresh snow after another late season snow storm today, but I can't wait to get in the fields. I doubt I'm the only one - especially after the prefect spring we had last year.

I just read an article today about farmland prices in Stearns County, which are also ready for planting. According to this article by Kirsti Marohn of the St. Cloud Times, the value of prime farmland in Stearns County jumped 15 to 18 percent in the last year, according to the Stearns County assessor's office. The article is included below:

Area farmland fetcheshigher property value
Smaller farms could find it hard to thrive as taxes, seed prices increase

Written by Kirsti Marohn

Apr 22, 2013
When some Stearns County farmers opened their property valuation notices in the past few weeks, they saw some startling numbers. The value of prime farmland jumped an average of 15 to 18 percent from last year, according to the county assessor’s office.

That means many farmers could be paying more property taxes in 2014. But despite that, there haven’t been large crowds of people showing up to local boards of appeals, County Assessor Gary Grossinger said.
Grossinger said turnout at those meetings, where landowners can challenge their property’s assessed value and classification, has been “probably the lightest in my 40 years.”

That’s likely because many farmers had a profitable year last year thanks to high commodity prices, and are aware of the rising prices agricultural property has been fetching.
The average sale price of farm land has increased from $4,000 an acre last year to $4,600 an acre so far this year, Grossinger said. There also have been a few sales for as much as $7,000 an acre.

“People know what the farmland’s going for,” Grossinger said. “When your neighbors sell for $7,000 (an acre) and we’ve got it on for $4,000, you’re not going to complain too much.”
Notices are sent to property owners every spring, informing them of their property’s estimated market value and taxable value. That value is used to determine how much the property taxes payable in 2014 will be.

Residential and commercial land values have been flat, which probably means owners of agricultural land will shoulder a bigger share of the property tax burden.
The level of spending by local counties, cities, townships and school districts also affects the final tax bill.

One significant shift has been the increasing value of large tracts of prime agricultural property, while buildable land closer to cities hasn’t been rising in value. That’s due to the lack of interest in developing property right now, Grossinger said.
“What’s selling now is good farmland,” he said.

George Hadrich, a corn farmer in Holding Township, said the rising property values are making it difficult for smaller farmers to survive. Hadrich said the value of his 270 acres jumped about 20 percent from last year, and he worries that his tax bill will increase the same amount.
Although corn prices have been higher recently, so has the price of seed corn, machinery and fertilizer, he said.

“The two of us are still working part time to make things work out,” the 71-year-old Hadrich said.

If you think now is the time to get your farmland appraised, or perhaps now is the time to sell your farmland, please give me a call at 320-894-7528.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Corn Growers Update

What a difference a year makes! Last year at this time we had no snow, temperatures topping out in the 70s and 80s, and even some wheat planted! A sharp contrast to the snowdrifts, ice, and machinery tucked away in the shed this year...

Though the winter has been long and harsh, I've had the opportunity to travel on behalf of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. In late February, yours truly flew to Florida for the Commodity Classic in Kissimmee, Florida. I had the opportunity to spend a few days before the convention at my aunt Jan's in nearby Lakeland soaking up the sun and some good old fashioned R and R. Besides enjoying the sunny and warm weather, I did attend many activities involved with the Commodity Classic. One of the highlights was listening to US Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack speak on farm issues. Also, National Corn Growers held their 1st session of Corn Congress, where I am a voting delegate for Minnesota. It is similar to Congress as each state has a different number of voting delegates depending on membership. Minnesota only trails Iowa in representation. We will have our 2nd session in July. There are many issues that shape our Resolutions booklet. There is always good debate (some long-winded) that truly shows our grass roots organization.

In March, I traveled to Washington D.C. with the same fly-in group as last year. Minnesota Corn was joined by the Southwest Council, which consists of farmers, bankers, insurance groups, and other commodity groups including Rice, Cotton and Sugar from Texas, Mississippi, new Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. We believe that showing our unity within the ag sector both by commodity and geography represents a strong view. We had 100 visits to the House and Senate offices. The visits consisted of a Congressman or their ag liaison. Our message included passing a farm bill now, protecting and strengthening crop insurance, and keeping a strong commodity title in the farm bill. Our lobbying firm Combest and Sell also orchestrated fundraisers for key legislators and champions of ag that I was able to attend. They included House Ag Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK), Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), Senate Ag Ranking member Thad Cochran (R-MS), and House Ag Ranking member Collin Peterson (D-MN). See the picture below!

We also had our day on the Hill in March at the capitol in St. Paul. Our Minnesota Corn group visited with state legislators. The goal was to have representation visit a legislator in every county. I personally visited with Rep. Mary Sawatsky and Sen. Lyle Koenen, as they are in my district.

Having good dialogue and voicing our concerns is very important as the amount of people directly involved in agriculture keeps shrinking. I have enjoyed my 2 years as a director for Minnesota Corn Growers. We have such a good story to tell in agriculture and I'm proud to be a farmer.