Agricultural Land Boom

February 1, 1944

Report Outline
Incipient Boom in Aggricultural Lands
Consequences of World War I Land Boom
Land Holdings of the Federal Government
Food Needs and Population Growth

Incipient Boom in Aggricultural Lands

Asustained Rise in land values during the last two years has brought warnings from the Department of Agriculture at Washington against speculation in farm lands and against the grave consequences to American agriculture that may follow the collapse of a war-inspired land boom. Economists of the department recall the unprecedented rise in prices of farm lands during and immediately after World War I, the deflation of land values that set in toward the close of 1920, the wholesale defaults on farm mortgage and tax payments that followed, and the long period of financial distress in agriculture that resulted from the excesses of the last war.

“Today we are in great danger from a farm land boom which is already under way,” Secretary of Agriculture Wick-ard said in an address, last November 18, before the National Association of Real Estate Boards. “Unless we do something about it soon we are going to build up future headaches for farmers and their families and for a good many real estate men as well.”

Wartime Advances in Farm Land Values

The threatened land boom in still in its incipient stages. The latest four-month report of the Department of Agriculture showed an increase of 27 per cent in the estimated per-acre value of farm real estate on November 1, 1943, over the average value in the five pre-war years, 1935–39, and an increase of 13 per cent over the estimated per-acre value on November 1, 1942. The index number of the value of farm real estate (1912–14=100) stood at 170 in 1920; by 1933 it had fallen to 73, and during the five years 1935–39 it had an average of 83. After four years of the present war, the index had risen by November, 1943, to 105, which was almost exactly the same relative advance as during the four years of World War I, although the earlier rise had started from a much higher base.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Farm Loans, Insurance, and Subsidies
Land Resources and Property Rights