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Pasture in summer time

Average cropland and pastureland cash rental rates can be helpful to both agricultural producers and landowners in planning leasing arrangements or making production decisions.

Knowing current farmland cash rental rates can be useful for updating leasing arrangements and for budgeting costs of production. Farmland cash rental rates were released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service on August 28, 2020. Rates are given for irrigated cropland, nonirrigated cropland, and pastureland for each county.

Some key highlights of these statistics are as follows:

  • Cash rental rates increased slightly in Alabama between 2019 and 2020. Cropland averaged $68, up $5 from 2019, and pastureland averaged $23, up $1 from 2019.
  • The statewide rate for irrigated cropland was $135 per acre, compared to $65.50 for nonirrigated cropland.
  • Cash rental rates slightly increased in neighboring states, following the trend of the past 5 years.
  • Cash rental rates vary greatly by county within Alabama, with highest rates for irrigated cropland being in the Wiregrass region, nonirrigated cropland in the Northern Valley and Coastal Plains and Gulf Coast regions, and pastureland in the Wiregrass region.

Statewide Farmland Cash Rental Values

Statewide cash rental values have gradually increased in Alabama over the past decade, similar to what has occurred in neighboring states (figure 1). Cropland averaged $68 per acre in Alabama, up 7 percent from 2019. Irrigated cropland had a rental rate of $135 per acre, an increase of $10 from 2019, while nonirrigated cropland received a rate of $65.50 per acre, up $5 from 2019. Pastureland had a rental rate of $23 per acre, with little change over the past 5 years.

Figure 1. State Level Farmland Cash Rental Values by Year.

Figure 1. State Level Farmland Cash Rental Values by Year.
Data source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

Over the past decade, both cropland and pastureland rental values have had modest increases in all states across the region. Cropland rates in Alabama lag behind the other states, with Florida leading the way at $132 per acre. For pastureland, Alabama follows only Georgia, which leads the region with a rate of $30 per acre.

Cash Rental Rates by County

Rental rates vary greatly within the state. Cash rental values are shown in figure 2 by county (or group of counties) and type of farmland. The highest-value irrigated cropland continues to be in the Wiregrass and Northern Valley regions, fetching $148 to $166 per acre, with lowest rates in the Black Belt, at $50 to $66 per acre. For nonirrigated cropland, Lawrence, Limestone, Colbert, and Escambia Counties all had rental rates of more than $100. The lowest rate for nonirrigated cropland was Coosa County at $10.50 per acre. Pastureland received the highest rate in Baldwin County at $46 per acre; the lowest rate was in Lee County at $10 per acre.

Figure 2. Alabama Farmland Cash Rental Values by County, 2020 ($/acre)

Figure 2. Alabama Farmland Cash Rental Values by County, 2020 ($/acre)
Data source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

Table 1 shows how cash rental values have changed by county since 2019. Since 2019, cash rental rates for irrigated cropland increased in all but 4 counties, while cash rental rates for nonirrigated cropland increased in 46 of the state’s 67 counties. Results were mixed for pastureland, with 34 counties seeing declines in cash rental rates from 2019.

Some of these differences across years are due to changes in methodology regarding the level at which cash rent was measured. Some county measures are aggregated with other counties, but this can change from year to year. For instance, in 2019, the rental rate for irrigated cropland in Cherokee County was measured independently, while the rest of the mountains and Eastern Valley region were calculated as a multicounty average; however, in 2020, all counties in the region were calculated as a multicounty average. Thus, the 140 percent increase in value for some of those counties in the region likely reflect the inclusion of the higher-value Cherokee County in the average. While the county-level values may give a rough estimate of the cash rental rate, they are often combined with other county values (denoted with an asterisk in table 1).

 

Table 1. Changes by County in Farmland Cash Rental Values from 2019 to 2020

*Represents Multi-County Averages
Data source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

CountyRegionIrrigated Cropland 2019Irrigated Cropland 2020ChangeNon-Irrigated Cropland 2019Non-Irrigated Cropland 2020Change
Pastureland 2019Pastureland 2020Change
AutaugaBlack Belt63*66*4.8%32.538.518.5%2423.5-2.1%
BaldwinCoastal Plains & Gulf Coast104*11712.5%7381.511.6%374624.3%
BarbourWiregrass138*166*20.3%495512.2%2927.5-5.2%
BibbUpper Plains & Piedmont121*125*3.3%17*15.5*-8.8%23*17-26.1%
BlountMountains & Eastern Valley50*120*140.0%3135.514.5%25.5*25.50.0%
BullockBlack Belt63*66*4.8%3026.5-11.7%17.515-14.3%
ButlerCoastal Plains & Gulf Coast104*122*17.3%2026.532.5%17.517-2.9%
CalhounMountains & Eastern Valley50*120*140.0%34.545.531.9%2019.5-2.5%
ChambersUpper Plains & Piedmont121*125*3.3%253124.0%18.520.510.8%
CherokeeMountains & Eastern Valley99120*21.2%62.58942.4%2527.5*10.0%
ChiltonUpper Plains & Piedmont121*125*3.3%3525-28.6%1710.5-38.2%
ChoctawCoastal Plains & Gulf Coast104*122*17.3%19.5*29.551.3%13.521.559.3%
ClarkeCoastal Plains & Gulf Coast104*122*17.3%31323.2%1616.53.1%
ClayUpper Plains & Piedmont121*125*3.3%17.528.562.9%2112-42.9%
CleburneMountains & Eastern Valley50*120140.0%3439.516.2%21.528.532.6%
CoffeeWiregrass138*166*20.3%46.5471.1%4033-17.5%
ColbertNorthern Valley145*151*4.1%9010314.4%17.524.540.0%
ConecuhCoastal Plains & Gulf Coast104*122*17.3%56.555.5-1.8%26.522.5-15.1%
CoosaUpper Plains & Piedmont121*125*3.3%1310.5-19.2%23*11.5*-50.0%
CovingtonWiregrass138*166*20.3%55.565.518.0%2733.524.1%
CrenshawWiregrass138*166*20.3%37.5*34-9.3%22249.1%
CullmanMountains & Eastern Valley50*120*140.0%334021.2%22.523.54.4%
DaleWiregrass138*166*20.3%43.5478.0%213252.4%
DallasBlack Belt63*50-20.6%3435.54.4%16.517.56.1%
De KalbMountains & Eastern Valley50*120*140.0%48.5539.3%25.5*27.5*7.8%
ElmoreBlack Belt63*66*4.8%53.553.50.0%1617.59.4%
EscambiaCoastal Plains & Gulf Coast130122*-6.2%1001022.0%3734-8.1%
EtowahMountains & Eastern Valley50*120*140.0%42.548.514.1%283628.6%
FayetteUpper Plains & Piedmont121*125*3.3%2739.546.3%2011.5-42.5%
FranklinNorthern Valley145*151*4.1%4758.524.5%232613.0%
GenevaWiregrass140166*18.6%59.553.5-10.1%31.527.5-12.7%
GreeneBlack Belt63*66*4.8%28.518-36.8%1317.534.6%
HaleBlack Belt63*66*4.8%30.525.5*-16.4%25.524.5-3.9%
HenryWiregrass138*166*20.3%4449.512.5%283110.7%
HoustonWiregrass167162-3.0%5360.514.2%30.54134.4%
JacksonMountains & Eastern Valley50*120*140.0%5949.5-16.1%3129.5-4.8%
JeffersonUpper Plains & Piedmont121*125*3.3%17*15.5*-8.8%23*11.5*-50.0%
LamarUpper Plains & Piedmont121*125*3.3%27.538.540.0%18195.6%
LauderdaleNorthern Valley145*151*4.1%6875.511.0%2423-4.2%
LawrenceNorthern Valley151148-2.0%991078.1%22.530.535.6%
LeeUpper Plains & Piedmont121*125*3.3%2117-19.0%1410-28.6%
LimestoneNorthern Valley145*151*4.1%107105-1.9%32.531-4.6%
LowndesBlack Belt63*66*4.8%3625.5*-29.2%1917.5-7.9%
MaconBlack Belt63*66*4.8%46508.7%16.52021.2%
MadisonNorthern Valley97151*55.7%669645.5%28.523-19.3%
MarengoBlack Belt63*66*4.8%38392.6%222827.3%
MarionNorthern Valley145*151*4.1%28.527-5.3%2214.5-34.1%
MarshallMountains & Eastern Valley50*120*140.0%343811.8%2928.5-1.7%
MobileCoastal Plains & Gulf Coast104*122*17.3%48.581.568.0%22.5246.7%
MonroeCoastal Plains & Gulf Coast97122*25.8%7379.58.9%2744.564.8%
MontgomeryBlack Belt63*66*4.8%2118-14.3%19.5202.6%
MorganNorthern Valley145*151*4.1%46.567.545.2%26.523.5-11.3%
PerryBlack Belt63*66*4.8%37.54828.0%20.517.5-14.6%
PickensUpper Plains & Piedmont212*125*3.3%34365.9%13.513-3.7%
PikeWiregrass138*166*20.3%3836.5-3.9%193163.2%
RandolphUpper Plains & Piedmont121*125*3.3%19.52633.3%2319.5-15.2%
RussellWiregrass138*166*20.3%37.5*45.521.3%19.519.50.0%
Saint ClairMountains & Eastern Valley50*120*140.0%2821-25.0%23.516-31.9%
ShelbyUpper Plains & Piedmont121*125*3.3%35.54012.7%1525.570.0%
SumterBlack Belt63*66*4.8%2015-25.0%13.513-3.7%
TalladegaUpper Plains & Piedmont121*125*3.3%4949.51.0%1613-18.8%
TallapoosaUpper Plains & Piedmont121*125*3.3%3035.518.3%1213.512.5%
TuscaloosaUpper Plains & Piedmont121*125*3.3%34.538.511.6%2428.518.8%
WalkerUpper Plains & Piedmont121*125*3.3%2221-4.5%23*15.5-32.6%
WashingtonCoastal Plains & Gulf Coast104*122*17.3%47.531.5-33.7%2420.5-14.6%
WilcoxCoastal Plains & Gulf Coast104*122*17.3%19.5*30.556.4%1515.53.3%
WinstonNorthern Valley145*151*4.1%21.5222.3%26.519-28.3%

 

Regional Trends in Alabama

Lastly, we look at regional trends within the state (figure 3), using the crop-reporting districts defined by the USDA. Cash rental rates for irrigated cropland are highest in the Wiregrass region at $164 per acre and lowest in the Black Belt region at $56.50 per acre. Regional trends for nonirrigated cropland are relatively unclear. Cash rental values for nonirrigated cropland are highest in the Northern Valley at $93.50 per acre and lowest in the Upper Plains and Piedmont at $37 per acre. There have been modest and relatively consistent increases in cash rental values for nonirrigated cropland across the regions. Pastureland receives the highest cash rental rate in the Wiregrass region at $29.50 per acre and lowest in the Upper Plains and Piedmont at $17 per acre.

Figure 3. Farmland Cash Rental Trends by Region in Alabama.

Figure 3. Farmland Cash Rental Trends by Region in Alabama.
Data source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

Conclusion

Average cropland and pastureland cash rental rates can be helpful to both agricultural producers and landowners when planning leasing arrangements or making production decisions. However, keep in mind that attributes of plots of land differ within a county, and the values presented in this publication are simply averages. Careful thought should be used when making any decisions regarding the rental value of land.

 

Download a PDF of 2020 Alabama Farmland Cash Rental Rates, ANR-2745.

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