ISA Newsroom

Agricultural news farmers want to know.

Land and machinery sales heating up

Article cover photo
Scott Steffes, president of Steffes Group, told the ISA board at a recent meeting that Iowa land and machinery have drawn strong bids at recent retirement auctions. He expects more auctions within the next 5 to 7 years as Iowa farmers look at their retire

By Bethany Baratta, ISA senior writer

The land and used machinery markets are heating up as farmers think about the next step in their career: retirement.

And if 2019 was any indication of the years ahead, farmers in the market for used machinery might be in competition to snag a used combine or tractor, said Scott Steffes, president of Steffes Group, a company his father started in 1960.

Steffes Group sold nearly 3,000 tractors, 627 combines and 21,600 acres at 536 auctions in 8 states last year. Steffes expects even more in 2020 and beyond.

“There’s going to be an opportunity to attend many more farm retirement auctions than we’ve seen in the past 5 to 7 years,” Steffes said.

With locations in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Litchfield, Minnesota, and West Fargo, North Dakota, Steffes Group has a pulse on the machinery and land sales in a greater Midwest region.

He said Iowa’s corn suitability rating (CSR) is a great selling point when it comes to land auctions in the state.

“The CSR system in Iowa is wonderful because you have so many more resources, and land is so coveted and productive here,” Steffes said. “Iowa farmland is the gold standard in farmland values.”

He said CSR values play a role in both rental rates and purchases. Recent land auctions in Iowa have ranged $2,900 per acre to $11,350 per acre. 

The company’s reach is even larger when considering the company’s online auctions in addition to its live auctions throughout several states.

“In the agricultural auctioneers world, we get to associate with farmers who are very tech-savvy, and we wanted to join them” Steffes said of the company’s entrance into online auctions in 2009.

Internet auctions may reach a broader audience—including those in countries all around the world, but Steffes said there’s something special about live auctions.

“The farmers we work with want to have a farm retirement auction as part of their process,” Steffes said. “I don’t think that’s ever going to go away.”

Plan to host a farm auction in the next few years? Steffes has a few tips to help your machinery bring top dollar:

  1. Details matter. Is the snow pushed or the lawn mowed? A well-kept farm typically increases worth.
  2. Pedigrees matter. Do you have records indicating service details on equipment? Show it. Service dates on oil filters indicate the farmers’ attention to detail.

Contact Bethany Baratta at

For media inquiries, permission to republish articles or to request high-res photos, please contact Katie James, ISA Public Relations Manager at © 2020 Iowa Soybean Association. All rights reserved.