There were fewer Iowa farms in 2012 than the previous year, continuing a consolidation trend that has been cited as a factor in the sharp increase in farmland values across the state.
Iowa ended 2012 with 92,200 farms, down 100 farms from 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farms, Land in Farms, and Livestock Operations report. The total amount of Iowa farmland was unchanged from 2011 at 30.7 million acres and the average farm size remained at 333 acres.
The number of farms in both the highest sales class ($500,000 and over) and the $250,000‐$499,999 sales class increased from 2011, while the number of farms in the three lower sales classes declined.
The number of farms in the highest sales class, with sales of $500,000 or more, increased by 1,500 farms to 11,500. The number of farms with sales of $250,000‐$499,999 rose by 500 farms to 10,000.
In 2012, there were 29,500 farms in the lowest sales class of $1,000 to $9,999, down 500 from the previous year. The number of farms in the $10,000 to $99,999 sales class fell by 1,200 to 27,200 farms.
“Most (farmland) buyers are farmers and they generally are in a very strong financial position,” said Bill Davis, chief credit officer with Farm Credit Services of America in Omaha. “They have made these purchases with relatively modest financial leverage.”
Almost three-fourths, 74 percent, of Iowa’s farmland is owned without debt. That compares to the 62 percent of Iowa farmland that was debt free in 1982.
From 1982 to 2002, the amount of farmland bought on contract also declined significantly, from 18 percent to 4 percent.