A study of Wisconsin land sales found farmland in some counties is worth more if it's closer to a concentrated animal feeding operation, also known as CAFOs.
The analysis came out of a larger project to combine statewide data on land use, land sales and soil survey data, said Simon Jette-Nantel, farm management specialist for the University of Wisconsin-Extension.
"I thought one key question that it could address is the impact of CAFOs on land values because I know that nutrient management and the impact of CAFOs is a growing issue in the state," Jette-Nantel said.
Because CAFOs need large areas of land to spread their manure, Jette-Nantel predicted there would be a relation between farmland value and its proximity to a CAFO. Which is exactly what an analysis of farmland sales from the first six months of 2017 in Barron and Marathon counties found.
"If it is close to a CAFO, it would tend to command a premium. That premium so far from what we’ve estimated could vary somewhere between $400 to $800 per acre," Jette-Nantel said.
Jette-Nantel said these are preliminary results and there is more data to be gathered.
Arlin Brannstrom from the Wisconsin chapter of the American Society for Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers said the findings are not surprising.
"It does seem to make economic sense that some of these larger dairies that need to apply manure to additional cropland really are in a position to be able to pay more for land nearby them than maybe some of the other smaller farmers in the area," Brannstrom said.
"That might raise some controversies," Jette-Nantel agreed. "On the other hand, it may also allow farmers that are looking to retire to sell their land at a premium."
Good or bad, both agree consolidation of farmland is likely to continue across the state.