Add another state to the list of places where land prices are making it more expensive to farm. A new publication shows how the price of prime corn and soybean ground continues to climb in Minnesota.

The state's median price for farmland increased from $1,500 per acre in 2002 to $1,519 in 2003. Although the median price didn’t change much, prices on the high end increased substantially. Lower prices on marginal ground helped hold down the average, but a substantial number of sales occurred at $2,000 per acre or above, with a few sales occurring above $3,500 an acre. Steve Taff, economist with the University of Minnesota Extension Service, points out that in addition to competing with one another, farmers increasingly find themselves bidding against investors and developers.

Taff is the author of the annual Minnesota farmland and timberland sales price report, and the 2003 version is available at the Minnesota Land Economics Web site at www.apec.umn.edu/landeconomics. The Web site permits users to examine individual sales or averages over any combination of cities, townships or counties. There's also a section that factors in farmland productivity.

“We now have 35,855 sales in the database,” Taff says, “stretching from 1990 until last fall. The story doesn't change much from year to year. Average prices are still increasing throughout the state, substantially in some areas.”