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A billionaire speaks: invest in agriculture

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“Over the next few years, I think agricultural projects are going to be one of the best investments and agriculture is going to be one of the best industries in the world,” says billionaire investor Jim Rogers. “Anybody who’s got potentially good agriculture land and good weather” stands to be a winner, he says.

 

“Agriculture, in my view, is one of the best places to be in the next 30 years. All these people getting MBAs are making terrible mistakes as far as I’m concerned — they should be getting farming degrees.”

That pearl of advice is from Jim Rogers, the Demopolis, Ala., native who began his business career selling peanuts at age 5, and went on to become a billionaire as a founding partner with legendary financier George Soros in Quantum Fund, one of the most successful international funds ever, which racked up a 4,200 percent gain over 10 years.

“Over the next few years, I think agricultural projects are going to be one of the best investments and agriculture is going to be one of the best industries in the world,” he said in a recent interview on Bloomberg/UTV.

Rogers, who attended Yale and Oxford Universities, and recalls that when he went to Wall Street at the invitation of a friend, “I didn’t know the difference between a stock and a bond,” retired at the ripe old age of 37. He then spent a couple of years traveling around the world on a custom-built motorcycle, visiting 116 countries and setting a Guinness world record, and scouting out new investment opportunities.

Two of his favorite maxims are: “Get out of the dollar, teach your children Chinese, and buy as many commodities as you can,” and “They wouldn’t be politicians if they knew what they were doing.”

Still considered one of the most astute investment analysts around, Rogers speaks and lectures widely and turns up on the TV business channels frequently. He usually doesn’t miss an opportunity to get in a plug for agriculture.

“We’re going to have much, much higher prices over the next few years,” he said in a CNBC interview, noting that prices for agricultural commodities have been too low for too long.

“Anybody who’s got potentially good agriculture land and good weather” stands to be a winner, Rogers says.

In another interview, he noted “the number of acres devoted to wheat has been declining for 30 years and inventory levels of food are the lowest since 1972.”

Corn and wheat are 60 percent below their peak prices, he says, “and adjusted for inflation, they’re at only about 5 percent of their peak prices. God knows how high the price of agriculture is going to go, so that’s where I’m putting more of my money now.”

While he remains bullish on gold and precious metals, despite record prices, he avers, “I’m going to make more money in agriculture than I make in precious metals.”

Rogers isn’t alone; a number of highly respected investment analysts are keen on the future of agriculture.

Even the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book survey of current economic conditions recently highlighted strength in U.S. agricultural markets, citing continued expansion of demand for ag products, helped along by shortages in overseas nations.

Discuss this Blog Entry 3

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 25, 2010
Sounds all well and good, but to say that good land and good weather will result in piles of cash is not telling the whole story. Farm level income will remain relatively unchanged. Land prices, land rent, fertilizer, seed technology, other inputs, will go up accordingly as every industry gets their cut of the higher commodity prices. As always has been the case, farmers will continue to work for everyone else and hope there is enough left to pay the bills.
Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 25, 2010
wow...so what about growing food for people? There is a difference between investing in agriculture because you are speculating and hoping for high returns and investing in agriculture because you want to see improvements in technology/production and on-farm income. This guy seems to be advocating for the first, which is pretty problematic when you think about what this may mean for food prices for the consumer.
Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 5, 2010

Farmers feed the world but can't feed their own families.

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