A new study from Purdue University on the effects of the state’s new method for taxing farmland shows what rural areas will take the biggest hit from the change.

Indiana taxes farmland mainly on the value of crops the soil can produce. But that calculation has lagged behind the current crop market.

It based farmland property assessments on 4-year-old crop prices, meaning taxes climbed even as farm revenues began to decline.

Sylvia Bao /

The value of Indiana farmland is seeing its biggest decline since the 1980s.

That's according to Purdue University's annual Farmland Value Survey, which says the drop is mainly due to low grain prices.

Indiana farmland values have been falling since 2014, but the estimated decline this year is especially steep -- around 8.5 percent statewide, putting the cost of an average acre of land at a little over $7000.

Judy Palermo/Indianapolis Zoo

Voluntary conservation farming practices are measurably decreasing nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River Basin, and this good news: from the Midwest, all the way down the Mississippi River in the Gulf of Mexico. As Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Nick Janzen reports, the Indiana trend in conservation is reducing the pollution that creates harmful algae blooms and the gulf’s dead zone.

The Indianapolis Zoo, as part of the dolphin exhibit, has a video of dolphins swimming in the Gulf of Mexico. They’re swimming near a boat, pushing air through their blowholes.

Ron Nichols/NRCS

Farmers may shake off a tax burden under a bill signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence – but the legislation may place another burden on local governments.

The bill changes the state’s property tax formula for farmland. Its author, Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek), says it’ll decrease farmers’ tax bills by almost $50 million in 2018.

Benton County Council president Alan Adwell – who’s also a farmer -- says that money has to be made up somewhere, as boards like his mind the property tax caps already in place.

Charlotte Tuggle / WBAA

Second-generation West Lafayette farmer Kevin Underwood has been collecting model tractors since grade school. 

But he can’t afford to replace the tractors he makes a living with because of the perfect storm of too much rain and a property tax structure that charges him based on what he pulled out of the ground three years ago.

David Cornwell /

Legislators are struggling to control rising property taxes on farmland. Farmland is taxed not on what it would be worth to someone else, but its productivity as farmland.

But Purdue agricultural economist Larry DeBoer says those assessments are four years out of date -- the state delayed assessments by two years after the Supreme Court threw out the old system in 1998, and has never caught up.

Sylvia Bao /

Indiana farmland values declined in all three categories last year for the first time since 2009 -- but a Purdue economist says the drop was expected.

In Purdue’s latest land value survey, top-quality Hoosier farmland values dropped a little more than 5-percent in the last year. 

Average farmland values decreased by nearly 4-percent, while low-quality values are down just shy of 5-percent. 

But Purdue economist Michael Langemeier says he’s not surprised – revenue from crop sales have been down, which usually leads to a drop in land value.