DECATUR, Ill. — The pace of farmland sales in Illinois has slowed after last year’s push, but values continue at a steady pace.

The Illinois Society of Professional Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers and the University of Illinois released results of its mid-year land values during the Farm Progress Show.

The survey is based on information received from ISPFMRA members that evaluates trends in farmland prices and cash rents.

“This information supplements the society’s larger efforts at year-end to document farmland prices and cash rents across Illinois,” said Gary Schnitkey, U of I farm management specialist.

“There was a tremendous push on land sales at the end of 2012 because of uncertainties concerning income tax treatment in 2013 and beyond,” said Dale Aupperle, Heartland Ag Group, Forsyth, overall chairman of the society’s annual land values and lease trends project.

“This led to a great deal of farmland being sold last year that might have otherwise been available to the market in 2013. As a result, there is still a demand for farmland but not much available for sale.”

Aupperle noted that this dynamic has kept prices paid for land steady.

“On July 1, 2013, farmland prices averaged $13,200 for excellent-quality farmland, $11,200 for good land, $9,000 for average-quality land and $8,300 for fair-quality farmland. This is an increase of 3 percent for excellent- and good-quality farmland, 2.5 percent for average-quality farmland and 1.9 percent for fair-quality land,” Aupperle said.

“These prices are not at the level of increases we’ve seen in recent years, but they are still upward.”

He added that the survey respondents expect the volume of land to be available for the balance of the year to be about the same as during the first six months.

The report notes that farmland productivity ratings in the mid-year survey define excellent-quality farmland with an average yield of more than 190 bushels of corn per acre, good-quality farmland averages between 170 and 190 bushels per acre, average-quality farmland averages between 150 and 170 bushels per acre and fair-quality farmland averages below 150 bushels per acre.

Schnitkey said the primary purchasers of land still are other farmers and local investors doing 85 percent of the buying, as has been the trend for the last several years.

The number of non-local investors has slipped no doubt because of other investment options such as the stock market, according to Schnitkey.

Seventy percent of the respondents indicated that less farmland was sold in the first half of 2013 as compared to the second half of 2012.

Partially explaining lower volume was a surge in farmland sales at the end of 2012 on account of uncertainties concerning income tax treatment in 2013 and beyond. Ninety-five percent of respondents indicated that there was an increase in land sales at the end of 2012.

Volume of sales in the last half of 2013 is expected to remain about the same as the first half of 2013. Twenty-three percent expect more volume, 43 percent expect the same volume and 34 percent expect less volume, according to the survey.

Seventy-three percent of farmland buyers were farmers, 12 percent were local investors, 8 percent were non-local investors, 5 percent were institutions and 2 percent were other buyers.

Respondents indicated that farmers have increased as a percentage of buyers while local investors, non-local investors and institutional investors have declined.

ISPFMRA members also were surveyed about their expectations for the next 12 months. Respondents were divided in what was expected to be the price change over the next 12 months.

Twenty percent expect farmland price to increase, 41 percent expect farmland price to remain the same and 39 percent expect farmland price decreases. Of the 39 percent expecting decreases, 77 percent expect a price decrease from zero to 5 percent.

Seven percent of respondents believe there will be a small price decline over the next 12 months, 38 percent stated there is more than a 50-percent chance of a small price decline 52 percent indicated there is less than a 50-percent chance of a price decline and 2 percent said it will not happen.

ISPFMRA members were asked how likely there will be a price decline greater than 10 percent in the next 12 months. Thirty-eight percent indicated there is between a 10-percent and 50-percent chance of a large price decline, 33 percent said a 1-percent to 10-percent chance of a large price declines and 24 percent said a large price decline will not happen.

Respondents expected the sales price of corn on the 2013 crop to average $4.92. Most respondents expect 2013 corn yields to be above the five-year average.

Sixty-six percent expect above-average corn yields, 18 percent expect average corn yields and 16 percent expect below average corn yields.

Respondents were divided on expected farmland price increases over the next five years. Respondents were asked what they expected changes in farmland prices to average over the next five years — a response of “10 percent” indicated that farmland will increase an average of 10 percent each year over the next five years.

Forty-six percent of respondents expected prices to average an increase between 1 percent and 5 percent the next five years, 9 percent expected farmland prices to remain the same and 45 percent expected price decreases.

Members expect small decreases in cash rents from 2013 and 2014. Respondents indicate that excellent-quality farmland had a $388-per-acre cash rent in 2013 and an expected cash rent of $374 per acre in 2014.

Good-quality farmland had a $332-per-acre average cash rent in 2013 with an expected cash rent of $318 per acre in 2014.

Average-quality farmland had a $318-per-acre average cash rent in 2013 and expected cash rent of $278 per acre in 2014. Fair-quality farmland had $224-per-acre-cash rent in 2013 and expected cash rent of $212 per acre for 2014.

Respondents expect corn prices to average $4.75 per bushel during the next five years. Most respondents expect slight decreases in production costs moving into 2014.

Fifty-six percent of respondents expect production cost to decline slightly, 21 percent expect production costs to remain the same and 23 percent expect increases in production costs.