The rest of the U.S. may have fallen into a recession, but at the north end of the Great Plains a robust economy and a tight labor supply is keeping North Dakota humming. Unemployment rate? Holding steady at 3.4 percent. New car sales? Up 27 percent. Foreclosure rate? Among the nation’s lowest. And the primary legislative budget issue? What do with a $1.2 billion surplus. What about land prices?
In 2008, land values increased 18 percent, up for the ninth straight year, to $765 per acre, according to the North Dakota Agricultural Statistics Service. Since 2004, when farmland prices equaled the 1982 record average of $455 per acre, a new record has been set every year, said Brian Kugel, a statistician with the North Dakota Agricultural Statistics Service.
Among the reasons being cited are strong farm commodity prices and a surge in oil production.
Nationally, farm real estate values averaged a record $2,350 per acre in January, up about 9 percent from 2007, according to the USDA. The agency cited strong commodity prices, farm programs, and tax incentives among the reasons for the increase.