Farmland in North America – smaller than you might think

As part of our global farmland guide, Farmers Weekly asked John Cottingham, an associate of the Savills international farmland team, about the farmland market in the US. 

See also: International farmland – Guide to the global land market

Main aFlag_of_Americagricultural products

Wheat, corn, soya, cattle, cotton, nuts, fruit and vegetables

Average farmland values for good-quality arable land


Average farmland values for grassland


Most desirable farm/land type

Intensively cropped arable farmland located in the Midwest or Delta regions

Quality of land

The US has an abundance of quality land, whether it be for broad-acre cropping or livestock. One issue an investor may face is the lack of available scale, because the majority of the US crop land is segregated into relatively small plots

Structure of farms

A majority of farms in the Midwest region are family operated, but the range of ownership includes family and institutional owners. The majority of livestock operations that account for a major proportion of exports are corporately owned and operated. The average farmed plot in the Midwest is 450 acres 

Key factors influencing land market

The forthcoming presidential election means some sellers are sitting tight, but falling farm incomes mean some are selling up

Players in the farmland market

A majority of US farmland is owned by Americans. A large proportion of the land is wholly owned by an absentee landlord who leases land out to professional farmers over set period leases

Limits on foreign buyers

Foreign direct investment (FDI) limitations differ on a state-by-state basis. While there are little to no limitations in the corn belt there are strict policy limitations in the western agricultural-producing states such as Nebraska and Kansas. California and the Delta regions allow FDI, but limitations vary depending on the level of capital and the enterprises

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