U.S. Plains crop land prices soften in quarter - KC Fed

CHICAGO Thu May 15, 2014 10:00am EDT

CHICAGO May 15 (Reuters) - Crop land prices in the central Plains were steady to weaker in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the previous quarter as lower grain prices weighed on the outlook for farm income this year, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City said on Thursday.

"Expectations of lower profits for crop producers have generally halted the rise in District cropland prices," the bank said in its quarterly survey of 228 regional farm lenders. "The value of non-irrigated farmland dipped 1.4 percent from the fourth quarter of 2013 and irrigated farmland values rose just 0.5 percent. In contrast, strong demand for high-quality grazing pastures bolstered ranchland values, which increased 2.6 percent from the fourth quarter of 2013."

The Kansas City survey covers an area that includes Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, the northern half of New Mexico and the western third of Missouri. The region is the major producer of hard red winter wheat, the main U.S. bread wheat, along with corn, soybeans and other food commodities, cattle and sheep.

"In keeping with these trends, some bankers expected additional easing in cropland values in the next three months but felt that ranchland values could strengthen further," the Kansas City Fed concluded. (Reporting by Christine Stebbins; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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