In mid-August, Iowa’s Natural Resource and Conservation Service (NRCS) began rolling out an updated version of the Iowa Corn Suitability Rating; now commonly known as CSR2.  Iowa farmers need to be aware whether CSR2 has been implemented on their land and how the updated rating may affect property taxation and land value.

In 1971, a gentleman named Tom Fenton developed a rating to measure the potential productivity of the land based on soil type, slope characteristics and weather conditions on a 100 point scale.  Mr. Fenton’s corn suitability rating (CSR) was subsequently adopted as a system for comparing one farm to another in determining property values and taxes; the higher CSR points the higher the value.  It has become common to hear Iowa farmers discuss farm values in dollars per CSR point, rather than dollars per acre.  Since 1971, changes have occurred in soil mapping, classifications and determinations.  Therefore, CSR2 was established to correspond with these changes and obtain productivity values through better transparency, consistency and ease.  Although the goal was to obtain the same values as the original CSR, the CSR2 system has resulted in updated points which are sometimes lower or higher.  As you may guess, the result is higher or lower taxation and property values.

While NRCS started implementing CSR2 in August, it has yet to be adopted universally across Iowa.  Furthermore, NRCS publications do not differentiate between the new CSR2 points from the original CSR points.  Therefore, problems can arise with misinterpreting land values based on CSR points.  For example, a contract dispute may occur if a buyer discovers the CSR2 points are lower than the original CSR points after signing a purchase agreement.  The buyer may want to back out of the purchase based on a claim of material misrepresentation of the value and productivity of the land.  Lower or higher CSR2 points may also create conflicts between landowners and tenants in negotiating lease values.

Down the road, the updated CSR2 points will be universally integrated and everybody will be talking about the same values.  However, until then, farmers, landowners, and purchasers need to be aware which CSR value they are relying upon.

For more information on CSR2 and the potential effects on Iowa land values, check out these websites links.

Iowa’s New CSR2 How Does it Affect Value?

Hertz Farm Management, Inc.; CSR and CSR2 – An Explanation; and

C. Lee Burras’ Iowa State University CSR2 Presentation