Despite low agricultural commodity prices, Iowa farmland still seems to be in high demand — with buyers willing to pay near-record prices. At a Sioux County land auction held two weeks ago near Hospers, a tract of 154 acres sold for $17,300 an acre. Jim Klein of Remsen was the auctioneer for that sale.

“I think everybody figured coming into the fall season with the grain markets down and going down that the land market was going to follow,” Klein says. “Actually in the last probably month, month-and-a-half we’ve actually seen the prices increase and I don’t quite understand it yet.”

Klein says “local people” were bidding for the ground and it was sold to a neighbor who owns land across the road. In addition to row crops, Sioux County has a number of livestock and poultry operations and Klein believes one reason for the high demand for land in the area is so farmers have somewhere to spread their manure.

“I think they want to expand their operations in numerous ways and one of them of course is having extra property to disperse their manure,” Klein says.

A parcel of Sioux County land near the town of Boyden sold for $21,900 an acre about two years ago, the all time record price for Iowa farm ground.

(Reporting by Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars; additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)