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Cropland Values & the Future Affordability Food

Touch the Soil News #1173 (Feature photo – American Farmland – Public Domain) The USDA tracks the value of American cropland – that is land used for crops, not livestock pasture. In their latest report of August 2018, the average value of an acre of cropland grew from $1,750 in 2004 to $4,130 in 2018. This equates to an average increase of 5 percent a year. All of this, as land is sold and traded, adds to the increase of the cost of food. Has the value of our purchasing power (income) gone up by 5 percent a year? Said in another way, have our incomes (since 2004) gone up…

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The Changing Face of Farmland Ownership

Touch the Soil News #1169 (Feature photo – Fig Tree -CCA SA 3.0 Unported) Gladstone Land is a company that specializes in owning farms and leasing them back to qualified operators. In a press release, Gladstone just announced it had acquired a 951 acre farm in Madera County, California. The farm includes 715 acres of fig trees and 224 acres of pistachio trees. The land will be leased to The Specialty Crop Company for 8 years to do the actual farming. The Specialty Crop Company touts that it is the world’s largest grower of fresh and dried figs. Gladstone reports that fig and pistachio trees can potentially remain in peak…

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Bill Gates Buys Farmland

Touch the Soil News #1138 (Feature photo – Bill Gates – photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.) Nudging back and forth as the richest and then the second richest man in the world, Bill is reported to have bought a major farm in the State of Washington. With a net worth of around $95 billion, The Land Report revealed that Gates purchased a farm from John Hancock (Insurance) for $171 million. Hancock purchased the farm in 2010 for only $75 million. Most of the value of the farmland is in the 10,500 acres of irrigated cropland in south central Washington. While John Hancock bought low and…

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The Loss of Farmland

Touch the Soil News #1117 (Feature photo – Farm For Sale –photo courtesy of Benjamin Gisin) It is no secret that early civilizations formed around the most fertile land with access to water – rivers and streams. It is also no secret that modern urban expansion goes directly over the top of the best farmland and can pollute the best waters. Phil Lempert provides some further insights to this modern dilemma: Want More? – Sign up below Special Deals Ahead…Sign up!

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Companies Becoming More Powerful than Countries

Touch the Soil News #1094 (Feature photo – Rainforest Destruction, Often the Outcome of Corporate Land Grabbing – CC SA 2.0 Generic) In a sobering story at farmlandgrab.org, research is showing that large corporations are able to take land out from under the control of indigenous people. Most of the investors behind land grabbing schemes unfortunately come from the nations of the United States, the United Kingdom, China, United Arab Emirates and Malaysia. In a stunning accusation, author Shenali Waduge argues that the winners of globalizations and international trade agreements are the multinational corporations, since they are the least bothered by religion, ethnicity, culture or preservation of history. You can…

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How Important is Your Yard?

Touch the Soil News #1044 (Feature photo – Backyard Garden – GNU Free Doc License) To help put that into perspective, there is value in being sensitive to events overseas. The international forum Farmlandgrab.org just published a short piece on the Great Polish Land Grab. The story has common themes around the world. Local and indigenous farmers are being forced out of business because they cannot afford to buy farmland. The influx of foreign capital is raising the price of farmland beyond what farmers can afford. Often, there are local henchmen that aid foreign interests in acquiring the land out from under a particular nation’s farmers. Polish farmers are complaining…

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Coming to a Farm Near You

Touch the Soil News #1041 (Feature photo – Corn Farm – Public Domain) The power of capital is everywhere, particularly in a nation that is cash-flow constrained. Consider that almost 50 million Americans are food insecure and for half of Americans a $400 unanticipated expense creates a hardship. In an economy that is hungry for dollars, loans and investments prosper to make up what can’t be paid for in cash. Agriculture is just one of many industries that have been identified for strictly investment purposes. Unfortunately, much of the money out there looking for an investment comes from our own retirement planning. According to the Investment Company Institute, retirement assets…

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Another Billion Dollar Farm and Food Investment

Touch the Soil News #838 (Feature photo – Saudi Coat of Arms) Unlike the economics of the past as envisioned by the World Trade Organization (WTO) – fostering global trade often for the benefit of the big traders, a newer form of trade – if you will – is festering. It is trade designed specifically for food security of specific nations. Saudi Arabia (population 33 million) and the United Arab Emirates (population 9.5 million) are working together to secure food from other nations specifically for export to their nations. The two nations just announced they are creating a special financial pool of $1.3 billion dollars to buy farmland, logistics and…

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Sobering

Touch the Soil News #805 (Feature photo – The National Congress Building of Brazil – a government unable to exert sufficient control over exploitation of the indigenous people in rural areas – copyright free) Far away in the rainforests and hinterlands of Brazil, agribusinesses and big finance can be found plundering the environment and the indigenous folks who live there.­­­ Recently, a delegation of 30 human rights, development and rural experts collaborated in an unprecedented visit (investigation) to the Brazilian hinterlands. The goal was to uncover rumors of gross misconduct towards indigenous folks from large soybean farm enterprises. See the report summary here: http://www.fian.org/en/news/article/caravana_matopiba_uncovers_alarming_human_and_environmental_costs_of_agribusiness/ The investigation was an international fact…

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Unrest in Farmland USA

Touch the Soil News #781 According to an Iowa State University Land Value Survey, the going price for an acre of farmland in Iowa was $419 in 1970. By 2016, an acre of Iowa farmland averaged $7,183 – an increase of 1,600 percent. Today, America has around 918 million acres of farmland. Of that amount 318 million is primary farm ground for crops – grain, potatoes, soybeans, vegetables and fruits. The remaining 600 million acres is pasture for livestock. According to the USDA, about 30 percent of farmland (275 million acres) is not owned by farmers, but by non-farmers renting it out. With the median age of the American farmer…

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