Unprecedented profitability in grain farming in the U.S. has led to an escalation in cash rental rates. Landowners and farmers have found it increasingly hard to agree on an equitable cash rent as crop prices and input costs have experienced significant volatility over the last several years. Cash lease rates aren’t public knowledge and don’t have a public clearinghouse such as a futures exchange which means information on rates is often sketchy. Rent surveys are conducted by NASS and many Land Grant Universities in an attempt to provide decision-makers baseline data.
For purposes of this study, NASS county survey results are compiled into regions consistent with Land Grant University survey regions. The NASS county averages summarized in these regions are compared to the Land Grant University survey’s “Average Land Class” in the corresponding region. NASS survey results regularly yield lower rents than Land Grant University surveys.
Two primary issues drive the differences in these survey results. First, survey questions differ. NASS cash rent surveys ask respondents to report the average cash rent paid while Land Grant University surveys ask respondents to submit average cash rents for recently rented parcels for each land production class. Second, the NASS cash rent survey effort surveys farmers while Land Grant Universities survey a mix of agricultural professionals, farmers and landowners. These differences are highlighted in this study as we examine survey question construction, motives of the two survey populations and practical ways the survey summaries can be used to educate clientele.