University of Nebraska comparison of per-acre ag land prices over five years in southwest and central Nebraska.
Nebraska's agricultural real estate values jumped 31 percent in the last year, the largest increase in modern times, University of Nebraska-Lincoln officials said in March.
UNL has conducted an annual farm real estate survey for 34 years, but never reported such a large increase.
The survey indicated the all-land average value as of Feb. 1 in Nebraska was $2,410 per acre -- 31 percent above a year-earlier.
The annual gain is a new record in both dollar amount and percentage.
Cropland especially showed significant gains in every region of the state, with increases of 35 percent -- or more -- in several areas.
Two and a half years ago,Hershey farmer Tom Brown said he bought a quarter-section of good farmland for $450,000, a substantial price at the time. Recently, a quarter-section brought just over $1 million in Keith County, he said.
There’s too much money in agriculture, Brown said April 17, as his sons waited for the soil to dry so planting could begin.
“Everyone’s going crazy,” he said. “It’s like the late 1970s and early 80s -- before the bubble burst.”
“I read about farms of 15,000-20,000 acres,” Brown said. “They are paying cash rents of $600 a acre.”
Brown is noted and respected for his opinions on the state of the economy.
He once arranged a meeting between then-Sen. Bob Kerrey and a group of farmers in his shop.
In February, the Center for Rural Affairs presented Brown with a Seventh Generation Award for lifetime service and contributions to rural life and protecting land and water.
Brown has supported and championed family farming, fairness and environmental stewardship during his farm and ranch career, the Center said.
Recently he talked farm policy with Rep. Adrian Smith at a gathering in North Platte.
Brown crticizes farm subsidies, especially direct payments that the federal govenment gives to farms every year regardless of weather and prices.
Brown also raises a critical questions about federal crop insurance, which he said costs taxpayers nearly $10 billion a year.
And he says it’s time to end subsidies for ethanol, both grain and cellulosic ethanol, which has created a considerable demand for corn and fueled crop and land prices.
Brown says there is virtually no limit on the amount of federal subsidies a farm can receive in any given year, so farms are virtually guaranteed a breakeven price no matter what happens and no matter how much they pay for land.
Agricultural leaders in Congress say that direct federal payments will be eliminated this year. There is also a more controversial move underway to limit the total annual payments a farm can receive in federal crop insurance payments.
Limiting those payouts would take federal money out of agriculture and dampen the fever of hot land prices before they become unsustainable and farmers and banks go broke, like they did in the 1980s.
His thoughtful, outspoken stands, and financial support of causes in which he believes, merited him the Seventh Generation award from the Cenger for Rural Affairs.
“Tom has contributed over many years in many ways to our mission of building communities that stand for social justice, economic opportunity and environmental stewardship,” said John Crabtree, Center for Rural Affairs’ Development and Outreach officer. “There could be no one more worthy of this award than Tom Brown.”