Farm land in Canada increase in 2015 10.1 % according to Farm Credit Canada

source:Farm land values report

National trend The average value of Canadian farmland increased 10.1% in 2015, following gains of 14.3% in 2014 and 22.1% in 2013. Overall, the average national values have continued to rise since 1993. In all provinces, farmland values increased. Manitoba experienced the highest average increase at 12.4%, followed by Alberta at 11.6%, Quebec at 9.6% and Saskatchewan at 9.4%. The average increase in Prince Edward Island was 8.5%, followed by Newfoundland and Labrador at 7.7%. Ontario saw an increase of 6.6% and British Columbia saw average land values rise by 6.5%. Nova Scotia saw values rise by 6.3%, followed by New Brunswick at 4.6%

British Columbia

The average value of British Columbia farmland increased 6.5% in
2015, following gains of 4.2% in 2014 and 3% in 2013. Values in the
province have continued to climb since 2011.

Vancouver Island experienced increased demand in 2015, with fewer
properties being on the market for extended periods of time. These
conditions resulted in a slight increase in land value, though not as
significant as may have been anticipated.

The lower mainland, including the Fraser Valley, experienced increased
market activity, which caused farmland values to move up slightly.
Large parcels of land continued to be in high demand as there are
generally few of these available at any given time.

The south Okanagan saw a strong market driving a modest increase
in values in some sectors, including an increase for properties growing
high demand cherry varieties.

Similar to the previous year, the Kootenay area saw an increase in
market activity, which translated to an increase in land values. One of
the reasons for increased activity was the growing interest shown by
producers from other higher priced marketplaces.

Conversely, the Cariboo region of central B.C. and the northwest
region, including the Bulkley Valley, experienced limited market activity
with minimal changes in land values.

The Peace River region saw average sale prices for the year, despite a
limited inventory of good quality farmland and properties being on the
market for a shorter period. These parcels of land often sell privately to
local producers


The average value of Alberta farmland increased 11.6% in 2015, following gains of 8.8% in 2014 and 12.9% in 2013. Values in the province have continued to climb since 1993. The majority of the province experienced a steady increase in farmland values throughout the year. The continued positive outlook on agriculture resulted in many producers purchasing land for expansion or to support succession planning. Agricultural land price increases were observed in northern, eastern and southern portions of the province, largely due to strong pulse crop prices. Continued strength in beef prices resulted in increased demand for land used for grazing in cattle producing areas as well. There were localized areas that started to reflect the impact of the downturn in the resource sector or appeared to have reached the point where the demand for cultivated land lessened.


The average value of Saskatchewan farmland increased 9.4% in 2015, following gains of 18.7% in 2014 and 28.5% in 2013. Values in the province have continued to rise since 2002. While many areas of the province saw price increases, land prices in almost half of the province remained stable or even decreased slightly. The greatest increase in values was seen in areas where pulses, specifically lentils, can be grown. There was limited land available on the market, which resulted in a high demand in areas where existing farms were either expanding or enabling the next generation through succession planning. While land located in the urban fringe also continued to see increased demand and values, the downturn in oil and gas has reduced off-farm income, which has impacted the demand for land in the southeast. Lower commodity prices (excluding pulse crops), late spring frosts resulting in reseeding, delayed rainfall during the growing season, and subsequent rainfall during harvest negatively impacted demand in many areas of the province as well. Saskatchewan continued to have strong demand in specific regions while other regions have stabilized.


The average value of Manitoba farmland increased 12.4% in 2015, which was the highest provincial increase. The province saw values increase by 12.2% in 2014 and 25.6% in 2013, continuing a trend of climbing values since 1992. Crop production land was purchased mainly by local producers expanding their farming operations as the next generation enters the industry. The majority of the province experienced normal to good yields along with average commodity prices, which supported the increase in farmland values. Southeast Manitoba saw many livestock producers expanding and purchasing cultivated land and additional land to facilitate manure management. While the slump in the oil industry has not yet affected land prices in the southwest of the province, market activity was quiet and limited to primarily estate sales.

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Reporting that farmland values in the Seventh District
retreated 3 percent last year, matching the
yearly decrease for 2014 and marking the first consecutive annual
decline since the late 1980s. According to the district’s agricultural
newsletter, which was prepared by Senior Business Economist David
Oppedahl from responses submitted by representatives of 199
agricultural banks, the decrease in Corn Belt values was 7.5 percent
from their peak in 2013 to the end of 2015. Although agricultural land
values fell again in 2015, the total corn harvest in the five states that
comprise the Seventh District was the third largest ever; the soybean
harvest was an all-time record, besting the record-setting harvest of
2014. The Seventh District includes all of Iowa, the northern portions
of Illinois and Indiana, the southern portion of Wisconsin, and the
Lower Peninsula of Michigan.

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USA Farm Sector Profitability Expected To Weaken in 2015

( Land report, United States Department of Agriculture)

Farm Sector Profitability Expected To Weaken in 2015

Both net cash and net farm income are forecast to decline for the second consecutive year after reaching recent highs in 2013. Net cash income is expected to fall by 27.7 percent in 2015, while the forecast 38.2-percent drop in net farm income would be the largest single-year decline since 1983 (in both nominal and inflation-adjusted terms).


Both net cash and net farm income are forecast to decline for the second consecutive year after reaching recent highs in 2013. Net cash income is expected to fall by 27.7 percent in 2015, while the forecast 38.2-percent drop in net farm income would be the largest single-year decline since 1983 (in both nominal and inflation-adjusted terms).

Crop receipts are expected to decrease by 8.7 percent ($18.2 billion) in 2015, led by a forecast $8.6-billion decline in corn receipts, a $5.7-billion drop in soybean receipts, and a $2.7-billion drop in wheat receipts.

Livestock receipts could fall by 12.0 percent ($25.4 billion) in 2015, a reversal from the 43.8-percent increase in receipts over 2005-14 period.

The reduction in crop and livestock receipts is largely driven by changes in price rather than changes in output.

Government payments are projected to rise 10.4 percent ($1.0 billion) to $10.8 billion in 2015.

Total production expenses are forecast to fall 2.3 percent, the first time since 2009 that they have fallen year over year. Energy inputs and feed are expected to have the largest declines. Expenses are forecast to increase for labor, interest, and property taxes.

After several years of steady improvement, farm financial risk indicators such as the debt-to-asset ratio are expected to rise in 2015, indicating increasing financial pressure on the sector. However, debt-to-asset and debt-to-equity ratios remain low relative to historical levels.

Declining farm sector assets resulting from a modest decline the in value of farmland, investments, and other financial assets—as well as higher debt—are forecast to erode equity by 4.8 percent, the first drop since 2009.

After several years of steady improvement, farm financial risk indicators such as the debt-to-asset ratio are expected to rise in 2015, indicating greater financial pressure on the sector. However, the sector appears to have remained well insulated from solvency risk.

The Value of Agricultural Sector Production Forecast To Fall for the Second Straight Year in 2015

The annual value of U.S. agricultural sector production is expected to fall 9.2 percent to $427.7 billion in 2015, as the value of both crop and livestock production decline (see table on value of production). The value of production is comprised primarily of cash receipts adjusted for any changes in inventories and home consumption use, plus all farm-related income. The falling value of crop production (to a forecast $186 billion in 2015) represents a second consecutive decline from 2013’s record high of $233.2 billion, and the third straight year of declining crop cash receipts despite a net inventory reduction. The value of U.S. livestock production is also forecast to decline 12.3 percent (to $191.3 billion) in 2015 as a large drop in receipts more than offsets the sector’s inventory expansion. Falling Crop Prices and Receipts Forecast for 2015

Crop cash receipts—the cash income from crop sales in the 2015 calendar year—are forecast to fall 8.7 percent in 2015, led by broad price declines for most field crops. Corn cash receipts are expected to decline the most, falling by $8.6 billion in 2015. Since hitting a record high in 2012, corn receipts have fallen 36 percent. While production is expected to drop slightly relative to 2014, corn prices are expected to fall by a larger percentage in 2015. Cash receipts for soybeans and wheat are also expected to decline from 2014, falling $5.7 and $2.7 billion, respectively. Rice cash receipts are expected to decline by 36.4 percent ($1.3 billion) on lower expected production and calendar-year prices.

Despite an expected increase in production, cash receipts for fruits and nuts are expected to remain flat in 2015 due to lower prices received by farmers. Production of grapefruits and oranges are both expected to fall as citrus greening disease has resulted in unmarketable fruit throughout Florida and elsewhere. California citrus production has held steady or increased relative to 2014, despite continued drought conditions. California has historically accounted for a large portion of U.S. vegetable and fruit/nut cash receipts. The drought there is likely to affect fruit/nut and vegetable production, and to reduce cotton and rice cash receipts. California is the second largest rice producing State and accounts for a large share of long-staple cotton production (for more information, see the ERS drought page).

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Farmland Investments Take Root…..

Source: Wall Street Journal

Farmland Investments Take Root TIAA-CREF gets $3 billion for new cropland fund; ‘gold with a coupon’

Farmland Partners CEO Paul Pittman says that softer farmland values are creating buying opportunities. “A little bit of pain in farm country makes our job easier.”

Farmland Partners CEO Paul Pittman says that softer farmland values are creating buying opportunities. “A little bit of pain in farm country makes our job easier.” By David Kesmodel and Jesse Newman

Farmland is attracting growing interest from pension plans, hedge funds and even mom-and-pop investors as they seek to diversify assets and capitalize on an agriculture-industry slump that has pushed down land prices in some regions.

Financial-services giant TIAA-CREF announced Tuesday that it has raised $3 billion for its second global farmland-investment partnership, exceeding its initial target of $2.5 billion. The fund, which will invest in North and South America and Australia, has lined up commitments from institutional investors, including the New Mexico State Investment Council and the U.K.’s Greater Manchester Pension Fund.

TIAA-CREF’s fund marks one of the biggest in a recent wave of cropland investments by institutional investors. Meanwhile, several U.S. public-stock offerings by farmland owners who have packaged their property as real-estate investment trusts, or REITs, are enabling retail investors to place bets on the sector as well.

Investors are betting farmland will yield good long-term returns as global food demand rises with growing populations and wealth in Asia, Africa and elsewhere. The amount of arable land is expected to increase only modestly, at best, due to urbanization and a lack of acreage suitable for crops.

Farmland is part of a broader push by investors into “real” assets—physical property including office buildings, bridges and timber—which typically trade at a low correlation with traditional stocks and bonds. Farmland also generates income from rent paid by farmers, leading some to call it “gold with a coupon.”

One of the attractions is “these are assets that are producing an essential need for society and, in many cases, into perpetuity,” said Jose Minaya, senior managing director at TIAA-CREF Asset Management.

TIAA-CREF, which has managed retirement assets for employees of universities and nonprofits for decades, began investing in farmland in 2007 and now manages more than $5 billion in farmland assets world-wide, Mr. Minaya said. It raised $2 billion in commitments for its earlier global farmland partnership.

Homestead Capital USA LLC, a private-investment partnership led by former executives at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., last month closed on its first farmland-investment fund, raising $173 million. Among its investors are the University of Alabama—making its first investment in cropland—and the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.

American Farmland Co., led by executives from Optima Fund Management, a firm that invests in hedge funds, in June filed plans to raise up to $100 million in an initial public offering for its REIT. It would be the third farmland-focused public REIT, joining Farmland Partners Inc., which went public last year, and Gladstone Land Corp. , which did so in 2013.

Institutional investment in farmland in the U.S., the world’s biggest exporter of agricultural commodities, has topped $2 billion over the past two years, according to iiSearches, a data arm of media firm Institutional Investor. While institutional ownership accounts for less than 1% of the $2.4 trillion U.S. farm real-estate market, according to University of Illinois economist Bruce Sherrick, institutional investors are likely to play a greater role, in part because many U.S. farmers—whose average age is 58, according to federal data—are nearing retirement.

U.S. farmland capital values have risen on average 4.6% annually since 1990, according to an index from the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries. Including the income generated from land, the average return has been 11.8%.

Farmland values in the Midwest—the main U.S. crop-production region—rose sharply for most of the past decade, fueled by soaring crop prices. Lately, though, the values have cooled amid a three-year slump in grain and soybean prices driven by bumper harvests. Average farmland values dropped 9% last year in Iowa, the biggest corn producer, according to Iowa State University. Values in Illinois, the top soybean producer, dropped 1% to 3%, according to the Illinois Society of Professional Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. Farmland Partners Chief Executive Paul Pittman walks through a field of corn while doing a yield estimate on a farm in Tunica County, Miss. Farmland Partners Chief Executive Paul Pittman walks through a field of corn while doing a yield estimate on a farm in Tunica County, Miss. Photo: Andrea Morales for The Wall Street Journal

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Farm land prices increase more slowly……

CNBC web published

Farmland sees slowest appreciation since 2010: USDA Jeff Daniels | @jeffdanielsca Thursday, 6 Aug 2015 | 12:38 PM

Farmland values grew at the slowest pace in about six years, with some regions such as the Corn Belt showing declines, according to a government report released late Wednesday.

Nationwide, farm real estate values (including all land and buildings on farms) rose 2.4 percent to an average of $3,020 per acre in the 12 months ended June 1, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2015 Land Values report. That represents a deceleration from the 8.1 percent growth rate reported in 2014 and the slowest pace since 2010.

According to the report, the average value of cropland nationally increased by 0.7 percent to $4,130 per acre in fiscal 2015, well below the brisk 7.6 percent pace of the prior year. The average value for pastureland nationally increased to $1,330 per acre, or 2.3 percent from 2014.

(USDA analyst Rachel Antzak said the overall farm real estate category that saw 2.4 percent growth includes the value of all farmlands—not just cropland and pastureland—as well as “other things,” including buildings.) The report excludes Hawaii and Alaska farmland.

The USDA data appears to show that the drought failed to put much of a dent in cropland prices in California, although the state’s pastureland values were flat compared with those of 2014. In California, the average price of cropland rose by 5.4 percent to $10,690 per acre, and despite the state’s worsening drought, the growth in values exceeded the 2.8 percent pace of the prior year.

In Texas, the average cropland values rose by 9.5 percent to $1,840 per acre in the latest year after jumping 10.5 percent in the 2014 report. Pastureland, however, was up a more modest 1.3 percent in the USDA’s latest Land Values summary.

The average value of cropland in the Corn Belt region (including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Ohio) was $6,840 per acre in the latest 12 months, down 2.3 percent compared with $7,000 per acre a year ago. That represents the first such decline in the Corn Belt region since 2009 and reflects lower corn and soybean prices.

That said, cropland prices in the Corn Belt still are up on average 75 percent since 2010 when they averaged $4,000 per acre, according to government figures. That compares with a national increase of nearly 53 percent in the same period.

Iowa had the biggest percentage drop in average cropland values within the Corn Belt, according to the government figures. Iowa cropland was worth an average $8,200 per acre in the latest 12 months, down 6.3 percent from a year earlier and sharply reversing the heady growth of 9.4 percent in the 2014 report.

Minnesota’s cropland values also were down in the latest period, falling by 2.5 percent to an average of $4,750 per acre from 2014. However, Minnesota’s pastureland values increased 18.8 percent from the previous year.

At an average $13,500 per acre, New Jersey had the most expensive cropland in the lower 48 states, according to the USDA report. Montana had the least expensive cropland, coming in at an average $997 per acre.

Jeffrey Daniela
Jeff Daniels Coordinating Producer

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Interest Rates, Crop Receipts Help Drive Farmland Values: Report

By: Neil Billinger
Farm Credit Canada
Source link

Interest Rates, Crop Receipts Help Drive Farmland Values: Report

It appears Canadian farmland values are heading towards the soft landing predicted earlier this year by Farm Credit Canada economists.

FCC recently released Farmland Values Explained, a report that provides an outlook for 2015 and identifies some of the key market drivers.

The report states farmland is a limited resource with only an estimated one to four per cent changing hands in a given year. The three Prairie provinces account for 80 per cent of total farmland in the country led by Saskatchewan at 38 per cent, Alberta at 32 per cent and 11 per cent in Manitoba. Ontario and Quebec follow at eight and five per cent, respectively.

Interest rates, crop receipts and the momentum effect are the three main components driving farmland values. While it’s difficult to make a precise forecast, the report states low interest rates will persist for the rest of 2015 and into next year.

Lower world grain and oilseed prices, combined with drought conditions over much of eastern Alberta and western Saskatchewan, will impact crop receipts. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada predicts a six-per-cent decline at the national level – the lowest point since 2011. A positive factor is the declining Canadian dollar that helps increase the value of export sales.

The variable momentum reflects the human element in the market, the report notes. The potential economic impact of lower oil prices in Alberta falls into this category.

FCC projects moderate farmland value appreciations in Saskatchewan and Quebec, with the wheat province expected to lead the country again. The report says the increases could be as high as nine per cent, with some upside to reach higher. That is well below the 19-per-cent rise last year and 28.5 per cent in 2013.

Brett Halstead is president of the Canadian Canola Growers Association and farms near Nokomis, about 150 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon, Sask. He says location will be a major factor determining farmland values over the next several months.

“For those with a good crop in the eastern half of the prairies, they may see some increase in (farmland) values through the winter,” Halstead says. “It could be localized and it depends on how many people are after a piece of land.”

Halstead says there is usually more competition in areas with a good crop.

“Farmland values don’t necessarily have to reflect the productivity of the land. Farmers are an optimistic group and they tend to want to price something to what it will be worth in the future. They anticipate land appreciation values. You might only have one chance to get that piece of land if you have competition bidding on it too.”

The Alberta forecast projects farmland value appreciation in the one- to three-per-cent range. Urban professionals and those working in the oil patch have purchased farmland over the years as a way to beat low returns from traditional investments, such as the interest rate earned through guaranteed investment certificates at the banks. Farmland as an investment has been a natural hedge against inflation, generating strong returns. This helped boost farmland values, but plummeting oil prices have resulted in layoffs and reduced overall confidence in the Alberta economy.

“I think there will be a decrease in farmland values, it just hasn’t hit yet,” according to Gary Stanford, who farms about 30 kilometres south of Lethbridge, Alta. and is president of the Grain Growers of Canada. “We have been on such a run over the last six or seven years that there needs to be a slowdown or re-evaluation. We have been lucky to have low interest rates in Canada, but there would be an impact if rates were to rise. By people having so much money in their farmland, unless it is paid for, this could come back to really hurt their finances in the future.”

Stanford and Halstead are concerned about another statistic contained in the FCC report, especially for younger farmers. Farmland represents a growing portion of a producer’s asset value. In 1993, land only comprised 44 per cent of farm assets in Canada. By 2013, farmland grew to 64 per cent of the value of farm assets, according to Statistics Canada.

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Great Farm & Ag Story in the Globe and Mail video, future of farming in Canada….

Inside the video a great story how global warming can change farming in Canada forever:
Farming in Canada with global warming…
The Globe and Mail | May. 22 2015
Jeff Rubin on why Canada’s food industry may soon be more valuable than oil

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Land prices rise by eight percent in later part of 2014 according to 2015 Land Markets Survey….

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE For additional information contact: Jessa Bertinetti 800-441-5263

New Land Markets Survey Shows Expected Land Sales Growth in 2015

April 13, 2015 (Chicago, Ill.) – Land prices rose steadily by eight percent in the last part of 2014, with individuals and families accounting for sixty-one percent of all buyers/investors in land sales transactions, according to the 2015 Land Markets Survey, conducted jointly by the REALTORS® Land Institute and National Association of REALTORS®. In addition, the survey revealed that fifteen percent of land purchasers were corporations/partnerships, twenty-three percent were investors, and nine percent were expansion farmers.

The 2015 Land Markets Survey is aimed at developing accurate information on current trends in the land markets and on the general state of land sales. The results are representative of over six hundred land professional respondents from across the United States and Canada.

According to the survey, forty-seven percent of the purchases where individuals/families bought, the land was purposed for farm and ranch (twenty percent agriculture and seventeen percent ranch) and thirty-one percent for recreation. Of those surveyed, expansion farmers purchased eighty-eight percent of land for farm and ranch use (seventy-one percent agriculture and seventeen percent ranch). Investors purchased a diversified portfolio of land including: thirty-three percent agriculture, fourteen percent timber, twenty-one percent development, and five percent commercial. Of the land purchased by corporations, development land accounted for twenty-eight percent, commercial land accounted for twenty-five percent, and timberland accounted for five percent.

Terri Jensen, ALC Advanced, 2015 Institute National President of REALTORS® Land Institute, stated “The outlook appears strong for several land types and locations. The demand from expansion farmers and investors exceeds supply—particularly in the Midwest states. Grassland/ranch land demand and prices continue to be strong.” Close to ninety percent of the respondents expect moderate to stronger sales growth in the first half of 2015, with prices rising at about three percent. The results appropriately correlate to the findings that responding land professionals across the United States primarily focus their practices in agriculture (sixty-three percent), recreation (fifty-five percent), and development (forty-eight percent).

The 2015 Land Markets Survey was based on data collected in March 2015. The survey was emailed to one-thousand REALTORS® Land Institute members and approximately nine thousand five hundred non-members and generated six hundred and nineteen usable responses. The Institute has made the full survey available for free online.

About the REALTORS® Land Institute
The REALTORS® Land Institute is the professional membership organization for real estate practitioners who specialize in land transactions. A 71-year-old affiliate organization of the National Association of REALTORS®, the Institute provides a wide range of programs and services that build knowledge, relationships, and business opportunities for the best in the land business. Through its best-in-class LANDU curriculum, the REALTORS® Land Institute confers its Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) designation to only those real estate practitioners who achieve the highest levels of education, experience, and professionalism. For more information, visit

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The best long-term real estate investment: Farmland

SOURCE: Richard McGill Murphy, Special to

Investors continue to buy up farmland like this in Bulgaria as a long-term investment plan. Source: Black Sea Agriculture Investors continue to buy up farmland like this in Bulgaria as a long-term investment plan.

From his office on Broad Street in lower Manhattan, Jeff Notaro oversees a modest portfolio consisting mainly of dirt. Specifically, Notaro’s Black Sea Agriculture fund invests in farmland in northeastern Bulgaria, near the Black Sea. The $1.5 million fund buys prime agricultural land and leases it back to local farmers.

Notaro is riding a growth market. Since 2004, Bulgarian farmland has been appreciating at an average annual rate of 19 percent. Yet Bulgarian land is still cheap compared to the United States. The average price per acre for good-quality land is $1,850 in Bulgaria versus $5,000 an acre in Kansas.

Land along the Black Sea coast commands higher prices because it’s especially fertile and also close to deep-water ports. Black Sea wheat land costs $4,300 an acre on average but yields an average of 71 bushels of wheat an acre, compared with 42 bushels an acre in Kansas. “That’s about half the cost per acre on a yield basis,” Notaro said.

The rise in local land prices has been fueled mainly by a worldwide agricultural commodity boom that has driven food prices up by more than 100 percent since 2003, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

“More people need to get into farming; otherwise, we won’t have any food,” said commodity investor Jim Rogers, who launched the international Quantum Fund with George Soros in the early 1970s and went on to create the Rogers International Commodities Index, which tracks the performance of numerous commodities in global markets, ranging from agriculture to metals and energy products.

Rogers and Notaro belong to an increasingly active community of farmland investors hoping to profit from the world’s growing need for nourishment. “I’m still wildly optimistic about the future of agriculture worldwide,” said Rogers, who has served as an advisor and as a director to companies that hold farmland in Australia, Brazil and North America.

The outlines of the investing case for farmland are well known at this point. The global population is expected to peak at slightly more than 9 billion by 2050, up from 7 billion today. On a per capita basis, the FAO projects that the amount of arable land available will decline steadily over the next few decades, from 0.218 hectares per person today to 0.181 hectares per person in 2050.

On the demand side, much of the growth in population and food consumption will occur in the developing world. As income levels rise in developing countries, consumers there are consuming more meat. Livestock production consumes massive quantities of grain and water, spurring farmers to boost both crop yields and land under cultivation.

Soaring demand for biofuels is another significant demand factor. In the U.S., for example, ethanol production accounts for 23 percent of total corn utilization, according to the Renewable Fuels Association.

Average U.S. corn prices tripled between 2005 and 2012, from $2 a bushel in 2005 and 2006 to $6.22 a bushel in 2011 and 2012. The price surge was partly caused by a rising demand for ethanol, along with other factors, including flooding and drought, higher prices for inputs like fuel and fertilizer, rising demand for meat, and upward movement in commodity markets.

In turn, rising agricultural commodity prices have driven a 128 percent rise in average Midwest farmland values over the past decade, from $1,270 an acre in 2003 to $2,900 an acre in 2013, according to USDA figures.

(Read more: America in 25 years: Here’s what to expect)

The world’s insatiable appetite On the supply side, crop yields have been leveling off since the dramatic advances of the last few decades, starting with the Green Revolution that transformed agriculture in China, India and elsewhere in the developing world from the 1960s onward. Today 40 percent of global wheat land is experiencing either flat or declining yields, according to a 2012 article in the journal Nature Communications.

In China, local scientists recently warned that smog levels around the country have risen so high that they are blocking natural light, potentially impeding photosynthesis and creating conditions that resemble nuclear winter.

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Future of farming is leasing not ownership. Source: Beyond Agronomy News Publisher & Editor Steve Larocque / Executive Editor Vanessa Larocque

What is your farm’s value proposition?

There was a time when purchasing land was part of a farm’s growth strategy. That strategy is quickly changing as land values increase and demographics shift. Today, land is trading well above its capacity to provide a return on investment through agriculture. At the same time, we’re now seeing the first generation of children removed from the farm who now own the land assets. In addition, we now have more corporate ownership of lands, those who have no ties to the land or our country.

First, the reason land leasing makes more sense here is simple economics. Land values in my area are roughly $2,600 acre and rising. I could lease that land for $70.00 an acre or 2.7% of its value. To buy 1,000 acres of land with 25% down at 5% on a 25-year mortgage it would cost me $146.00 an acre to cash flow before I put a seed in the ground. That’s twice the value of land rent plus the capital tied up in the $520,000 down payment.

Secondly, we have started to see a shift in land ownership where parents in their 70-80’s are passing down the family farm to be managed by the children. The children may or may not know who is farming their land and may not even live near the farm they now own and manage. The tenants go from a strong relationship with the owners to none in a heartbeat and it’s a very uneasy feeling. In the case where the land is sold, we are starting to see more outside investment in farmland, so once again, the relationship starts at ground zero.

We know that leasing more land than you own is the new model, so how do you reduce the risk of losing that land with new ownership? How do you attract those owners as someone they would like to lease land to? Simple, you offer a better value proposition than your competitor. Competing on cash rent alone is a losing, short-term strategy so it’s time to find out what corporate farms and the younger generation wants from a tenant.

When you look at the mission statements of corporate or large family owned farms with international footprints, they focus on three things:

1) Social 2) Economic 3) Environmental

The first pillar is a social responsibility. What are you doing to make your community better? How do you treat your employees and the people you deal with? Are you just a farm who crops land around a community or do you engage that community with your brand by sponsoring sporting events and supporting local businesses? Ask yourself this. What would your employees or people in the community say about you and your farm? The answer should tell you if you need help in this area or not.

The second pillar is economic. Do you employ the best farming techniques available today? Is your farm team engaged and pushing efficiencies and productivity higher? Can you prove it? How do you compare against the area average? If you farm like everyone else, then what sets you apart?

The third pillar is a key driver in almost every farm mission statement and that is environment. Though we don’t talk about it much in Western Canada, farmers do many things that are environmentally positive like no-till farming, less cultivation, few equipment passes, less fuel, smaller carbon footprint, etc. Take it a step further and consider harnessing a wetlands project or creating a project by leasing a site to promote wildlife or biodiversity on your farm. It may sound odd to have this in place but if your new landlord is from outside North America, they are going to ask about your environmental stewardship plan or projects.

The reality is, demographics point to a more removed type of landowner. In order to remain competitive and reduce the risk of losing land to owners who don’t know you, you have to sell your story. The future is not about who can pay the highest cash rent. It’s about landowners partnering with the right farms who tick the right boxes. I suggest we all have a sit down and plan out how that looks on your farm. SL

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