Custom farming survey for Iowa shows slight decline in rates
by ISU Extension and Outreach
March 22, 2020

By Alejandro Plastina and Ann Johanns—Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

Learn average prices for custom work from ISU Extension and Outreach’s recent survey.

AMES, Iowa – Custom farming can provide an additional source of income for those with machinery and experience or alleviate a farmer of a particular task that they do not wish to do on their own.

Whether the farmer is performing or receiving the custom work, the question always comes up over what to charge, and while rates vary from one operator to another, a new report by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach provides a look at projected averages for 2020.

The 2020 Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey is available in the March edition of Ag Decision Maker and provides custom prices for common farm tasks in Iowa, compiled from 106 respondents.

According to the report, there was a 3% decline across all categories, with complete harvesting and hauling declining by 4%, and bin and machinery rental increasing by 2.3%.

The average price for custom combining corn in Iowa in 2020 is $36.70 per acre, compared to $35.95 per acre in 2019. Spraying, per acre, is $6.70 in 2020, a slight decline from $7.25 per acre in 2019.

In addition to field activities, the report also includes prices for commodity storage, snow removal and farm maintenance, equipment rental and labor prices.

“Subdued commodity prices, lower fuel prices, and another year of thin profit margins in crop production in the horizon are setting the tone for overall lower expected custom rates in 2020,” said Alejandro Plastina, assistant professor and extension economist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “However, some tasks related to manure management might see some price increases, according to the survey respondents.”

Plastina said it’s important to remember the report is simply an opinion poll and should only be used as a starting point in the process of determining custom rates.

“This report is not to be interpreted as Iowa State University’s opinion of what the custom rates are or should be, but rather what survey respondents report thinking the rates will be in 2020,” he said.

Still, he believes the data in the report are of value to farmers and ranchers who may be considering custom work this year to provide guidance in their projections.

Additional publications on machinery, including how to estimate specific machinery costs and historic days available for fieldwork can also be found through the Ag Decision Maker website,

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