Sticker shock coming for farmland owners in Yellow Medicine County


— It's no secret that farmland values continue to rise, but all the same, farmland owners in Yellow Medicine County will be in for sticker shock when they receive the county's projected assessments for values in 2024 sometime this spring.

The assessments on tillable acres are projected to rise an average of 51.2% county-wide, County Assessor Connie Erickson told the Yellow Medicine County Board of Commissioners at their Dec. 27 meeting.

"We will be getting phone calls on this," said commissioner John Berends of Granite Falls during discussions on the assessment projection.

"You will be," Erickson said.

Her projection for what she termed a very significant increase in farmland values led Erickson to provide the commissioners with the numbers earlier than normal. She usually provides an update in the new year and in advance of the mailings of the projected assessments.

The assessor told the commissioners that while farmland values are rising in counties throughout the area, the jump being seen in Yellow Medicine County is significantly higher than most. She is part of a group of assessors in a 10-county area — including Chippewa, Yellow Medicine, Renville and extending north to Pope and Meeker counties —who met last month to review what sales are showing. She said most of her counterparts expect to see 15% to 20% increases, while Yellow Medicine and Renville counties are anticipating much higher increases.

The projected increases in Yellow Medicine County vary among its 21 townships. Wergeland Township bordering Lyon county will be seeing a 70% hike. Hammer and Norman Townships will see 40% hikes, while the other townships can expect increases ranging from 48% to 60 and 65%, she said.

The projections are based on actual land sales to Oct. 31, as well as a calculation that takes into account the trend in sales prices over a 21-month period. The sale value of tillable acres rose by about 2% in each of the past 21 months, she told the commissioners.

In the time frame used for the projections, the county recorded 32 sales, with 30 of those sales being farmer-to-farmer and two by investors, Erickson said.

Even with the big increases, the assessor noted that the projections may not be keeping up with the upward trajectory of farmland values. She noted that farmland sales in November and December, which are not used in calculating the 2024 projections, continued upwards and exceeded the 2024 per acre projected values. There were sales with per-acre values ranging from $12,400 to $14,500 per acre.

County-wide, the average value is now $9,675 per acre, which is below the values being seen in counties to the south.

Commodity prices are strong and the agricultural economy is doing well, Erickson explained.

The rising values mean that a larger share of the overall county tax responsibility will fall on agricultural lands. Erickson said the shift will be softened some. Her projections for 2024 also show that the assessed values for residential, commercial and industrial properties throughout the county will rise as well, but at more modest levels than farmland values.

Housing sales vary throughout the county, but anecdotal evidence from real estate agents suggest the market is cooling. Erickson said the real estate agents told her that houses placed for sale in the $80,000 to $120,000 range are still moving fairly well, while those above that level are not.