FARM & ACREAGE — Resources to help manage your ag land

By Tyler Williams, Extension Educator

Managing the finances for agricultural land you own or operate can be challenging, stressful and often covers topics which are hard to keep up with. The following resources can help you manage your farm and/or agricultural land.

The Nebraska Extension publication, 2018 Nebraska Crop Budgets (EC872), includes 78 crop production budgets for 15 crops, as well as information on crop budgeting procedures, machinery operation and ownership costs, material and service prices, and a crop budget production cost summary. They are grouped by crop and are provided in a PDF or excel file. These budgets are created using assumptions for common operations; however, every operation is unique, so you can modify these budgets to fit your specific needs. These budgets were created by a team of Extension faculty and specialists.

Every two years, Nebraska Extension conducts a survey of custom operators to determine the current rates charged for specific machinery operations. The 2018 Nebraska Farm Custom Rates (EC823)is divided into two parts: spring and summer operations and fall and miscellaneous operations. Custom rates reported include charges for use of necessary equipment, fuel, labor and supplies such as baling wire or twine. Seed, fertilizer and chemical are not included in the report. The results of the survey are grouped by Nebraska Ag Statistics Districts and reflect the views of those who complete the survey. Actual rates paid for custom services may vary from those who responded to the survey.

The final results from University of Nebraska–Lincoln Department of Agricultural Economics’ 2018 Nebraska Farm Real Estate Report show a fourth consecutive year of declining Nebraska agricultural land values. The statewide average value of all categories of ag land dropped 4 percent to $2,270 per acre. This is an 18 percent reduction since land values peaked in 2014. Land values are reported by district, which are the same districts as the Custom Rates.

A few highlights in the report:

• Average land value changes by district varied from a 7 percent reduction in the North to 1 percent in the Southeast.

• Tillable grazing land saw the greatest decline of 7 percent. The changes were particularly notable in the East and Central districts where values dropped 11 and 10 percent, respectively. However, tillable grazing land in the Southeast district was an exception and increased 2 percent.

• Two other categories — dryland cropland with no irrigation potential in the Northeast and non-tillable grazing land in the Southeast — were the only others to see an increase.

• Survey participants identified crop prices and property tax levels as significantly contributing to the drop in land values.

This information may be useful to get an idea of land values and rental rates across the state, but should not be used to set a specific rental rate or value of a piece of property. These are the results of a survey and would not fully represent your situation.

Crop shares, cash rent and flexible leases are types of lease agreements for agricultural land. Although many landowners and tenants believe in the power of a handshake, having a written lease is a good practice to provide clarity between parties, create consistency from year to year and to protect yourself from unseen circumstances. In addition to the common cropland or pasture agreements, these leases can also include livestock, building or facility rental, or hunting rights.

If you are looking to create a lease, a good place to learn more about what should be included in a lease and sample lease forms is This website is a multi-state Extension effort to develop resources for landowners and tenants. Because this is a multi-state effort, it may not include all of the Nebraska laws and provisions, but it does provide a good starting point.

Agriculture comes with stress, but weather, taxes, low commodity prices, among other reasons appear to have increased agricultural-related financial stress. While stress is a normal part of life, too much stress can trigger physical illness, depression or anxiety, among other challenges.

You can counter stress by eating a well-balanced diet, exercise daily, get enough sleep, set realistic goals, and separate work and family time.

If you or someone you know needs help managing stress or would like to talk to someone confidentially, Nebraska has many resources:

• Nebraska Farm Hotline/Rural Response Hotline, 1-800-464-0258

• Farm Mediation, 1-800-446-4071

• Nebraska Legal Aid, 1-877-250-2016

All of the resources mentioned in this article, and many more, can be found at