• Wed. Nov 29th, 2023

    The Changing Landscape of Nebraska Farmland Ownership

    ByNuala Hafner

    Nov 20, 2023
    The Changing Landscape of Nebraska Farmland Ownership

    Nebraska farmland has become a hot commodity in recent years, with prices soaring to record highs. A recent analysis by the Flatwater Free Press has found that the top buyers of Nebraska farmland over the past five years are primarily corporate farming operations, real estate developers, and investment firms. This trend has significant implications for small local farmers like Bill Alward, who find it increasingly difficult to expand their operations due to skyrocketing prices.

    The average price of Nebraska farmland has surged by 41% since 2018, reaching a record-high of $3,835 per acre, according to a University of Nebraska-Lincoln survey. The buyers of this land, particularly the larger parcels, are often multinational corporations, out-of-state corporate farms, and distant investors. In fact, seven of the top 10 buyers who spent the most money on Nebraska land in the past five years are located outside of the state. These out-of-state owners collectively spent a staggering $246 million on Nebraska land.

    The factors contributing to these rising prices are multifaceted. One major factor is the competitive bidding between investors, local farmers, and ranchers. Investors entering the market have driven up prices, making it even more challenging for small farmers to remain competitive. Additionally, real estate developers are increasingly purchasing farmland for residential and commercial development. Tech companies like Facebook and Google have also invested millions in converting agricultural land into data centers.

    While there were rumors of foreign buyers, the analysis did not find definitive evidence of their involvement in Nebraska land purchases. However, Canadian buyers and subsidiaries of multinational corporations, such as ULINE, have emerged as top buyers.

    The impact of these changing ownership patterns extends beyond the economic realm. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, through a nonprofit tied to a P.O. box in Utah, has become the largest buyer of agricultural land in Nebraska. These shifts in ownership raise questions about the long-term implications for local communities, land use, and the agricultural landscape.


    Q: Why are Nebraska farmland prices increasing?
    A: The prices of Nebraska farmland have been driven up by competitive bidding from investors, out-of-state buyers, and real estate developers, as well as the conversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes.

    Q: Do foreign buyers play a significant role in Nebraska land purchases?
    A: While there were rumors, the analysis did not find definitive evidence of foreign buyers. However, Canadian buyers and subsidiaries of multinational corporations have been identified as top purchasers.

    Q: How are small local farmers affected by these trends?
    A: Small local farmers face significant challenges in expanding their operations due to the rising prices of farmland. The dominance of corporate farming operations and out-of-state buyers makes it increasingly difficult for small farmers to compete economically.