Farmland values, driven by high crop prices, are surging at a pace not seen since the 1980s in some states, according to the Federal Land Bank of Kansas City's Quarterly Ag Credit Survey.

First-quarter, non-irrigated land values soared by 12% compared with last year, the highest since mid-1981. Irrigated land values jumped 11.6%, the second highest in survey history. While the 276 bankers who responded to the survey expect the upward trend to continue, some question whether the rapid growth is sustainable.

The survey found that the gains in land values varied by state. For example, Nebraska saw farmland values jump more than 17% from a year ago, while gains in Oklahoma cropland values actually moderated from last year's pace.

Ranchland continued to be in high demand with first-quarter values increasing more than 11%, driven by recreational demand and timely rains. However, the Kansas City Fed says high crop prices have pushed up feed costs. As a result, more than a third of the bankers surveyed said cattlemen are selling cattle early or delaying herd expansion, with the largest herd adjustments seen in Oklahoma.

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-- Burt Rutherford