What is in this article?:
- Soaring farmland prices: potential bubble or a good investment?
- Diversity offers unlimited possibilities
- Yield and production capability
While land prices in the Mid-South haven’t attained the stratospheric levels of those in Iowa and California, they have nonetheless seen good appreciation, says George Baird, owner/operator of Baird & Brunson Land Management Group LLC, Collierville, Tenn. “In the past 12 months, farmland prices in our region have continued to climb,” he says, “with increases being reported between 6 percent to 15 percent.
Yield and production capability
“The way to manage these uncertainties and take advantage of the potential in agriculture in today’s markets involves a number of factors, but the No. 1 emphasis is yield and production capability. The Mississippi River Delta is blessed with rich soils, a good growing climate, and ample groundwater. In fact one of the biggest problems we have in many areas is getting rid of excess water.”
In today’s volatile climate, “farming in not simply about planting and harvesting, but includes developing a complete risk management program that encompasses production, input costs, technology, weather, USDA policies, and marketing decisions.
“Investors, landowners, and operators must take a look at how all of these aspects work together and look forward with a five-year, 10-year, or even longer-term vision to develop a complete farm management plan and seek properties that either are highly developed or have opportunity to incorporate improvements that will help minimize risk and maximize production.
“I believe the market is beginning to recognize the variances in the quality of farmland and improvements and that this will begin to be priced accordingly. If additional work is needed, those capital expenditures must be taken into consideration.
“New technologies, varieties, equipment and tillage practices can open up new opportunities for crop rotations and mixes that might not previously been considered possible.
As land prices continue to push higher and commodity prices continue to move upward, landowners, operators, and investors will continue seeking to take advantage of the bullish markets, Baird says.
“But, I would prefer to see the hoopla currently surrounding commodity prices and land values, and the negative press we often get in the mainstream media, subside. When every day another story on network television is playing up increases in food prices and how much money is being made, it is often with a negative spin.”
Volatility and economic uncertainty are “today’s reality and the world we live in,” Baird says. “If we in agriculture don’t educate the general public and tell the story of the American farm and the benefits we bring to local communities, states, and the health and ultimately security of our nation, who will?
“There are tremendous challenges before us, but the opportunities can also be great. Those of us in the agricultural community need to tell our story to the public and explain benefits from American agriculture at home and abroad.”