Arizona Land Values Keep Rising

By Heather van Blokland
Published: Thursday, September 16, 2021 - 5:05am

It is getting more expensive to buy land in Arizona — but it is also getting more expensive to own land. A rising state population along with increased development is dwindling farm acreage and driving up its cost.  

Typically, a farm is valued based on its crop yield — a good lemon harvest, for example, means good income for the farm. But as Arizona’s population grows and development increases, there’s less land to farm — and cropland is more expensive to buy - and hold.

“The housing industry, what’s happening with inflation, all those kinds of cause and effects do have a cause and effect and they change from year to year as all economic conditions change,” said Tony Dorn, branch chief of the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Dorn said land is the Number 1 asset for farmers and cropland values are measured each year to keep track. “Being able to farm and having access to land and its resulting land value is probably the most important indicator to show the economic health of a farm,” he said.

The USDA's 2021 survey priced Arizona’s cropland at $7700 per acre, almost twice the U.S. average. Arizona is the third-most expensive state to buy cropland, second-most expensive to rent it — according to an agricultural investment research group. Part of that, according to Dorn, is increasing development and population growth across the state.

Dorn said what seems to be clear is that cropland values increased in places across the country —  not just in states where crop values increased. The total value of farmland and buildings for Arizona in 2020 was 26.9 billion, up 1.3% from last year at $3,900 per cropland acre in 2020.

Values are based on direct surveys taken from farmer about what is happening on their operation. Land values are done in combination with the June area survey —  at the end of the year. Dorn’s group compares each year’s data to prior years to establish trends. The value includes the value of all land, cropland, pasture and buildings on the land, he said.

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