The national economic crash and concerns in the ethanol industry did little to slow the increase in farmland values during 2008, according to a new study.
In Buena Vista County, agland value jumped from $4,846 per acre on average for 2007 to $5,582 for 2008 - an increase of over 15 percent.
That BV figure is more than $1,100 above the overall value for an acre of cropland statewide. Only nine of the 99 Iowa counties saw higher land values than Buena Vista.
In the area, Clay County recorded a 15.2 percent increase for 2008, and Cherokee County over 17 percent.
Local agland sales outpaced the rest of the state - although the highest increases were in central and west central Iowa. The Northwest Iowa area saw values climb 14.8 percent in 2008 for an average of $5,395 an acre. Southern Iowa saw values as low as $2,573.
Farmland values recorded their second highest dollar increase in th 57 years of records by Iowa State University Extension farm economists - with the highest being in 2007. The worst year ever was a 30.2 percent crash in 1985.
The survey was done in early November, with general economic concerns already well underway. Crop prices have declined markedly since reacing a high in July, and production costs such as fertilizer continue to increase. ISU economists expect that the rapid increases in land value may be coming to an end.
Still, agland investment appears strong and steady, unlike the topple of the 1980s. Land values have basically doubled in the northwest region since 2003, and 2008 marks the first time ever that agland sales averaged over $6,000 an acre for a few counties.
The better the land, the better the increase. Lower grade land increased by only 11 percent, medium land about 14 percent, and high grade land almost 15 percent statewide.