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An economic analysis of land prices of mountainous grazing land in eastern Oregon

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  • The "unusual" behavior of agricultural land prices is the subject of considerable debate and controversy and is the object of this research. There is little doubt that land prices have been increasing steadily since 1959 and dramatically throughout the decade of the 1970's. However, there is widespread disagreement among economists, appraisers, and other interested parties as to the causes of the dramatic increases in land prices. Net agricultural income is undoubtedly an important factor in the agricultural land market. Yet, land prices have continued to increase in the face of steady and even declining net incomes. Other factors often considered as exerting considerable influences are inflation, pressures from an increasing population, incentives to attain economies of size through ranch enlargement, and capitalization of government farm program "payments" into land values. The objective of this research is to identify the factors that exert significant influence on agricultural grazing land sale prices in two Eastern Oregon counties and to assess the impact of changes in these factors on the selling price of grazing land. A single equation linear regression model is used to identify the factors that have a significant impact on the price of grazing land. The variables determined to be positively correlated to the price of grazing land are the productivity of the land, the price of feeder cattle, inflation, and the assessed value of real property included in the land sales. The price of hay is negatively correlated with the price of grazing land. The inclusion of public land (USFS and BLM) grazing privileges in the sale was found to have no significant effect on the price of grazing land. In addition, purchases for the purpose of ranch enlargement are occurring at lower prices than purchases for ranch establishment. The major limitations of this study are the restrictions placed on the sales that are analyzed and the problem of standardizing a measure of land productivity. The first limitation is defensible given the stated objectives of the study and the need to limit the analysis to a roughly homogeneous class of land sales. The latter limitation prohibits generalization of the results to other areas without appropriate standardization of the measure of land productivity.
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