A new report from Rabobank says farmland rent values must drop to meet lower commodity prices and it's highly probably all land values will fall, too.
"If rental costs remain sticky at unsustainable levels through the 2017-18 growing period, individual land assets face the threat of much deeper devaluation, as nutrient and crop protection programs are cut and abandonment (usage changes) increases," says Sterling Liddell, Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory service analyst.
The research arm of the international bank says using its baseline price projections of corn below $4 per bushel, soybeans below $10.20 per bushel, and wheat prices falling in the $4-5 per-bushel range, rental rates need to decline from an expected $1.60 per expected bushel of corn produced to around $1.30/bushel. This is if the costs of seed, crop protection and fertilizer remain relatively flat.
Generally this means a $30 per acre to $50 per acre decrease. Such a move would push returns from farming back to near breakeven, if expected production equals trend-line yields.
Even with a decline in rental values, farmland acreage contraction will still likely be needed before commodity prices reach a sustainable level in the long term, Rabobank analysts say. This should mean a return to grass and forage crops.
To balance supply and demand at a sustainable breakeven price, Rabobank analysts estimate that 3-5 million acres will be forced out of corn, soybean and wheat production over the next three years. This is about a 2% decline from the five-year average of total farmland.
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