Top Cash Rents in 2021

Top 10 Highest State Cash Rent Averages in the Corn Belt in 2021

Katie Micik Dehlinger
By  Katie Micik Dehlinger , Farm Business Editor
The darker the green shading, the higher the statewide average cash rent for cropland was in 2021, according to an annual USDA survey. (Map courtesy of USDA)

OMAHA (DTN) -- Nationally, farmers paid an average of $141 per acre to rent cropland in 2021, $2 more than last year and $7 more than five years ago, according to an annual survey by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The trend of slightly higher rents parallels farmers' stagnant profits in that time frame.

"Cash rents typically follow agricultural returns in a lagged manner," several prominent ag economists wrote in a recent Farmdoc Daily blog post analyzing USDA's data for the state of Illinois. "Higher returns in 2020, along with projected higher returns in 2021 and 2022, likely lead to upward pressures on 2022 cash rents." (You can read more here:….)

USDA's survey, which includes data from about 250,000 farmers with $1,000 or more in agricultural sales, is conduced each year from mid-February until June. Unlike many USDA reports, the cash rent data is released into NASS' Quick Stats database without an accompanying report. You can find the raw data, which includes more detailed data for irrigated cropland and pasture, here:….

For the current crop season, USDA found the highest statewide average cash rents for cropland are found in California, Hawaii and Arizona. These three states saw larger rents as well as larger year-over-year changes than many in the Corn Belt, but they also produce a high proportion of specialty crops, whose higher values command larger cash rents.

DTN included a number states in its analysis that farmers may not consider a part of the traditional Corn Belt but that produce a sizeable quantity of corn, soybeans, wheat and other small grains.

For the 10 states featured here, changes in cropland cash rents ranged between $8/acre lower than last year and $13/acre higher. There were also a few shakeups from last year's top 10, with one state moving up a spot and another jumping up two places.


Among the main corn- and soybean-growing states, Iowa had the highest average cash rent for cropland at $233/acre. That's $3 higher than in 2020.


The average Illinois cash rent increased $5/acre in 2021, coming in at $227. The Farmdoc team said this is the third-highest state average rent since 1970, but it's below the all-time high of $234/acre set in 2013.


Indiana edged out Nebraska to take the No. 3 spot on the list, with a statewide average cash rent of $200/acre, up $6. Over the past five years, Indiana cash rents exceed Nebraska's in four of those years.


The Cornhusker State's average cash rent of $197/acre is even with last year, which is what allowed Indiana to leapfrog past it. And while Indiana rents have exceeded Nebraska's in recent years, that wasn't the case from 2012 to 2016, when Nebraska's rents were higher.


Minnesota saw the highest year-over-year gain in cash rent, with the statewide average increasing $13/acre to $177.


Average cash rent in the Buckeye State increased to $160/acre in 2021, up $4 from the prior year.


With a statewide average rent for cropland at $150/acre, Kentucky also saw a $4 increase from 2020.


Michigan jumped up two spots in 2021. It saw the second-highest year-over-year increase from 2021, with the statewide average increasing $10/acre to $138.


The Badger State was the only one in the Top 10 to see lower rents than last year. The average cash rent declined $8/acre to $138 in 2021.


Missouri farmers paid an average of $130/acre to rent cropland in 2021, $7 higher than last year.

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Katie Dehlinger