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Nut Trees – Increasingly Desirable Agricultural Assets

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Touch the Soil News #757 (feature photo – Pastachio nuts on the tree – Paolo Galli CC SA 3.0) When the health and nutrition community recognizes certain foods as healthier or health supporting, chances are the financial investments in those commodities will follow. Case in point. Gladstone Land is a company whose business model is based upon owning agricultural land in that produces fruit, vegetables and nuts – no livestock, corn, soybeans or hay. It is not an accident that Gladstone follows land that produces foods most important to health. Nuts are a rising star as relates to healthy eating and Gladstone Land just announced (7/17/2017) that it has purchased…

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Africa’s Richest Man – To Be World’s Largest Farmer?

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Touch the Soil News #751 (feature photo – Aliko Dangote – photo courtesy of the World Economic Forum CC SA 2.0) In the U.S. today, when farmers look to buy land to expand, they generally buy a retiring neighbor’s farm. Mostly they are parcels of a few hundred acres. A one (1) thousand acre parcel would be considered large purchase. The largest farms in America are in the 20,000 to 40,000 acre range with a few that can be larger. Expanding his stake in the farming scene is African billionaire Aliko Dangote (age 60). Forbes estimates that Dangote has an estimated net worth of $12.5 billion, which puts him within…

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Is Industrial Farm Economics Unfriendly to Humans (and farmers)?

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Touch the Soil News #623 (Feature photo – in 2017, even big farms will face uncertainty. Over the years, farm auctions have become bigger and bigger.) In 1935, America had around 7 million farm operations. Today that number is around 2 million of which less than 100,000 produce the majority of the nation’s agricultural output. In short, the advice of economists to farmers to grow, buy more equipment and buy more land has resulted in bankrupting most farm operators. The USDA just released its estimates for net farm income in the U.S. for 2017. Estimates are that 2017 net farm income will be 57 percent less than in 2013 (see…

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David Versus Goliath

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Touch the Soil News #570 For most of agricultural history, the growth of large industrial farms was paralleled by the growth in tractor size – both of which had larger and larger price tags. Large tractors today can carry price tags of $300,000 plus. In stark contrast to equipment trends of ever higher technology and price, a new Alabama start-up called CleBer, LLC was formed to go the reverse. Founders Horace Clemens and Saul Berenthal, neither of which have manufacturing experience, have engineered the Oggun tractor. A tractor that could (due to cost and access issues) revolutionize the food chain. A food chain that is increasingly conscious about local, sustainable…

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Words of Premonition?

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Touch the Soil News #498 The chairman of the Chinese overseas trade council – Jiang Zengwei – recently made a foretelling announcement. “We must help Chinese agriculture go global, as people have an increased demand for agricultural products with improved quality.” Less than two years ago, China was still steeped in policies that obliged the nation to attempt to produce its own food. That failed, and China is now openly grazing around the world for agricultural assets. Yes, some of the food will be purchased on the global market. However, much of it will come in the form of owning agricultural assets – farmland, food manufacturing facilities, transportation facilities and…

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The Emerging Food Domino Effect

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Touch the Soil News #276 Emerging in the global food landscape is what could well be called the domino effect. In past decades, the effect of one nation’s struggle for food did not necessarily domino over to other nations. Most nations tried to be somewhat food self-sufficient. Many nations had subsidy programs to support and encourage their national foods and farmers. However, no nation ever considered balancing its population with its ability to feed itself. Then came the World Trade Organization (WTO). To join the WTO, nations had to eliminate subsidies in order for farmers across the oceans to be able to compete with farmers of someone’s homeland. The world’s…

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Food Concerns Leads to Powerful Shifts in Political Power

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Touch the Soil News #255 We are all familiar with the red tape that goes on in Washington. Lots of talk about ending hunger and minimizing food waste – but things move at a snail’s pace. More frequently we are seeing cities and states step up to take climate change action – for example – on their own. When governors and mayors start to act on things that should be taken care of on the federal level – it signals a shift of power. Fossil fuels and alternative energy have been dominating the national and international political debates. However, people and food have been climbing up the “media” ladder at…

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Farmland Partners – It’s Hard to Lose Money on Farmland

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Touch the Soil News #245 Almost unbelievable just 10 years ago, a new kind of farmer has emerged the likes of which have never existed in human history. This new farmer takes the form of a consortium of agricultural-savvy professionals who farm not with tractors, but with dollars. One example is Farmland Partners, Inc. – a publically traded (New York Stock Exchange) company. Farmland partners buys farms and often leases them back to the farmer they bought it from. With their dollars, their way of farming is an armchair approach that oversees what goes on with their farmland. A relatively new company, Farmland Partners, Inc. had some 7,000 acres they…

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Holiday Spirit – Former Football Star Now Farms for the Hungry

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Touch the Soil News #244 Recently, journalist Andrew Amelinckx put together a story for Modern Farmer Magazine on seven (7) professional athletes that are also farmers. Featured in the story was Jason Brown. Brown played for the St. Louis Rams and during his career was the highest paid center in the NFL. Jason Brown left football in 2012. He now owns a 1,000 acre farm in Louisberg, North Carolina. The first part of his crops go to local food banks. In 2012, brown left football to farm. Having never been a farmer and knowing little about farming, Brown started learning about his new profession by first watching YouTube “farming” videos.…

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Dangers of Large-Scale Farming – 7,000 People Without Running Water

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Touch the Soil News # 181 The standard economic plan – for centuries – has been one of producing something to sell focusing on the financial cost and not the environmental cost. After decades of intensive farming in California’s Central Valley, a different realization has come home to roost. The area’s water was being exported in the form of food. For decades, the area has depended upon taking more water out of the ground that was being replenished in order to sustain agricultural production. The California drought just escalated the speed at which groundwater was withdrawn in excess of replenishment. The community of East Porterville in Tulare County, California is…

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