Posts

Farmland investment

It’s no secret that farmland values have boomed over the last decade. Many farmers and outside investors have bought and continue to buy up land to pad their investment portfolios. Despite the decreasing commodity values of the last year, many economists continue to be optimistic about buying land as a long-term investment.

Commodities investor Jim Rogers, who founded the Rogers International Commodities Index, is part of an increasing number of farmland investors hoping to benefit from the growing world population’s need for food. With a world population that is expected to grow from 7 billion to 9 billion by the year 2050, and the projected arable land to decrease steadily in the same time span, the case for farmland investment worldwide is a good one.

Says Rogers, “More people need to get into farming; otherwise, we won’t have any food. I’m still wildly optimistic about the future of agriculture worldwide.”

There are many other factors contributing to the desirability of quality farmland. One is that the increase in population will occur largely in the developing world, where rising incomes will contribute to higher meat consumption. Increasing livestock consumption creates a demand for grain and water, so farmers worldwide will rise to the demand by putting out more crops and farming more acres. Another driver of the farmland market boom is the demand for biofuels, such as ethanol.

These factors, combined with a worldwide leveling off of yields after the many advances of the last 40 years, put owners of quality farmland into excellent position to benefit financially in the long-term.

While outside investors continue to be bullish about quality farmland, others emphasize the need use caution before jumping headfirst into the farmland market. While land values have risen dramatically over the last decade, they are set to level off as commodity prices do the same.

Purdue University Extension agriculture economist Craig Dobbins says, “The next couple of years for farmland values are going to be a little less certain than the last few years have been. Commodity prices have come down significantly in the last year, so these large returns we’ve kind of become accustomed to for the last few years have now shrunk.The probability of short-term farmland values staying flat or seeing a small decrease is much bigger than the probability that we’re going to see another double-digit increase.”

While farmland continues to be a solid way to invest your capital for the long-run, it’s important to evaluate your financial situation carefully before buying land in 2015.

Are you considering buying land, or do you have concerns about the value of your farmland going forward? Contact UFARM—we’re happy to talk with you about your land asset. UFARM offers a full range of Nebraska land management services, including real estate sales, rural property appraisals, consultations and crop insurance. UFARM has operated in Nebraska since the early 1930’s. Contact us today!

 

Sources consulted: Murphy, Richard McGill. “The best long-term real estate investment: Farmland.” CNBC.com. CNBC. 24 Mar. 2014. Web. 16 Dec. 2014. Stewart, Jennifer. “Farmland value shift signals need for cautious purchasing.” Purdue University News. Purdue University. 13 Feb. 2014. Web. 16 Dec. 2014.

1031 ExchangeAt some point during any farmer or landowner’s lifetime, they will likely be involved with the sale and acquisition of land. Deferring the capital gains tax on the sale of land to a later date by purchasing more land—in what is known as a 1031 exchange—is a common practice that has been employed for many years. Several proposals by the federal government to significantly alter the 1031 Section of the IRS code have many in the real estate business wondering about the future of 1031 exchanges, and how this might affect multiple industries, including farmers and landowners.

A 1031 exchange is a very useful tool for investors. In technical terms, “A 1031 exchange allows an investor to defer the recognition of capital gains when exchanging one appreciated investment property (the ‘relinquished property’) for another ‘like-kind’ investment property (the ‘replacement property.’)” In most 1031 transactions today, the investor employs a qualified intermediary (QI) to facilitate the sale of the relinquished property to one party and the purchase of a replacement property from another party. The replacement property must be equal to or greater in value to the relinquished property. The capital gains are thus deferred to a later date, when the replacement property is sold or transferred with non-like-kind property.

As such, 1031 exchanges are not tax loopholes; they are merely a deferred payment of taxes. Commercial real estate expert Scott Saunders explains, “The essential logic is that the investor, in exchanging one appreciated property for another like-kind property, has not realized the gain inherent in the relinquished property. The investor has merely changed the form of his investment.” Thus, since no profit is realized in the transaction, there is no premise for taxation.

It is no secret that 1031 exchanges are friendly to investors, businesses and business owners, farmers, and landowners. The advantages of 1031 exchanges are numerous. They make sound business sense, helping investors grow, change locations, diversify and expand, thereby creating jobs, further financial opportunities and economic stimulus to a wide array of other economic sectors.

Consequently, it is troubling to many that the federal government is looking to alter—and in some cases, eliminate—1031 exchanges, in order to increase federal tax income. Two separate proposals, one by former Democratic Senator and current China Ambassador Max Baucus and another by US Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), would eliminate all 1031 tax exchanges. President Obama’s latest budget proposal would limit the deferred taxes in a 1031 exchange to $1 million dollars per taxpayer per taxable year beginning January 1, 2015.

Of course, should these proposals pass, the effect would not, in fact, produce more federal tax revenue. In reality, the likelihood that investors would simply hold onto properties rather than sell without the ability to defer tax payment through 1031 exchanges would greatly increase. Accordingly, the beneficial economic ripple effects to other financial sectors would lessen as well.

Saunders urges taxpayers and voters to educate legislators on the many benefits that 1031 exchanges offer in order to put a stop to the potential elimination of 1031 exchanges.

Are you looking to sell land, and are wondering about how a 1031 exchange would work for you? Are you concerned about how these potential tax changes might affect you and your land? Contact a UFARM representative with your concerns—they are glad to help.

United Farm and Ranch Management (UFARM) is a Nebraska-based company devoted to meeting landowners’ needs. UFARM offers a full range of Nebraska land management services, including real estate sales, rural property appraisals, consultations and crop insurance. UFARM has operated in Nebraska since the early 1930’s. Contact Us.

 

Sources consulted:  Saunders, Scott. “1031 Exchanges Face Uncertain Future.” Rebusiness Online. 06 May 2014. Web. 02 Sep. 2014.

 

 

 

Real Estate Auction Sign-croppedDespite a downturn in grain prices and lower net farm income expectations among farmers and investors across the Midwest, demand for high quality farmland remains strong. A limited supply of such quality ground is contributing to a healthy demand for premium farm acres, even though prices for farmland in general seem to be moderating following the five year boom in land values.

While the primary competitors for such ground are farmers themselves, local investors seeking to expand their portfolios continue to show great interest in obtaining these valuable parcels of ground. When such land become available, both parties show healthy interest and appear willing to pay top dollar for it.

Even with this stable demand, landowners and farmers themselves remain cautious when it comes to investing in more ground. While many are better positioned now, with less debt, than during the 80’s land bust, they are seeking to invest smartly. For many, this means putting more effort into finding only the best quality farmland.

Mike Walsten, editor at Landowner, projects that farmland values in general will fall about 10% this year, based on current expectations. He says that demand for quality farmland will remain fairly stable, while demand for less quality farmland will continue to weaken, especially should profit margins further weaken at the same time.

In the longer term, Walsten is confident that farmers and landowners will weather these market corrections if they show restraint in adding more debt. He cautions that adding more debt to maintain spending will create problems—something that many producers learned the hard way during the 80s land boom and bust. Another factor that could greatly influence landowner decisions are rising interest rates, especially in the latter half of 2015. Higher interest rates would further dampen land values.

Still, investing in farmland remains one of the best and safest long term investments—something that landowners and especially outside investors recognize. One of the main drivers of recent interest in investing in farmland is based on the burgeoning world population, which is expected to peak at 9 billion by 2050, up from 7 billion today. Growth, especially in developing nations, will substantially drive up demand for food. In addition, the quest for biofuels remains a contributing factor to the high demand for quality farmland. In the US, for example, corn grown to produce ethanol accounts for 23 percent of total corn use.

It’s no secret that owners of quality farmland are poised to benefit from such trends, and while land values are currently softening, many experts remain bullish on land values going forward, especially for high quality farmland.

Are you seeking to make the most of your farmland, or are you looking to expand your portfolio and think that land ownership would be a good fit for you? Let the experienced professionals at United Farm and Ranch Management help you determine the best plan of action to benefit your unique situation.

Sources:

Birt, Nate. “Farmland Prices: Demand Ticks Up for Good-Quality Ground.” Agweb.com. Farm Journal. 07 Apr. 2014. Web. 24 Apr. 2014.

Murphy, Richard McGill. “The Best Long-Term Real Estate Investment: Farmland.” CNBC.com. CNBC. 24 Mar. 2014. Web. 24 Apr. 2014.

 

rising interest ratesAs we roll into 2014, farmers and landowners are looking ahead to see what the new year will mean for commodity prices and land values. One of the main indicators affecting these prices is the interest rate. Producers wonder whether they will see an increase in interest rates in 2014, and if so, how that will ultimately affect their farming operations.

After nearly a decade of burgeoning land values resulting from high commodity prices combined with extremely low interest rates, 2013 and 2014 might bring about a market correction in this area, and it seems as if the value of farmland has peaked for the time being. The first half of 2013 saw slight increases in the interest rate, along with falling commodity prices. As a result, land values seem to be leveling off.

In a report entitled, “Land Values Peaking Out—But Not Down,” Sterling Liddell, a senior analyst at Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory (FAR), predicts that while commodity prices will likely be lower in the coming year, they won’t be low enough for long enough to substantially affect land values in the short term.

However, Liddell also notes that the greatest risk to land values is higher interest rates. Since interest rates can hardly go any lower than they have been in recent years, it’s a widely accepted assertion that they will inevitably rise. When might this increase take place? Based on current Federal Reserve Policy, substantial increases aren’t forecasted until later 2014 into 2015. According to analysts at the web-based Farmland Investor Center, “More specifically, the Fed has said that it will hold short-term interest rates near zero as long as the unemployment rate remains above 6.5% and inflation expectations one to two years out remain under 2.5%. The Fed projects the unemployment rate could fall to 6.5% in 2014. But most Fed officials expect to hold off on a rate increase until 2015, according to an internal assessment of monetary policy.”

While it’s widely known that higher interest rates negatively affect land value, what’s less known is to what degree. Jeff Caldwell of Agriculture.com postures that land values are likelier to respond more sharply to interest rate increases in the current market climate, since a market indicator known as the capitalized value of land is so high. “The higher the capitalized value, the more the land is being influenced by factors like low interest rates, thereby making it more susceptible to value declines when those factors change.”  Thus, Caldwell posits that a rise in interest rates would affect land values more quickly and more sharply now than it might when the capitalized land value is lower.

In the meantime, no matter when or to what degree interest rates increase, it’s more important than ever for farmers and landowners to keep a close eye on their input costs and marketing as they’re faced with the likelihood of land value decreases and interest rate increases in the foreseeable future.

If you would like to evaluate your options as a land owner, contact a UFARM professional land manager. Consultations are free.

 

Sources: “Falling Land Values? Watch Interest Rates.” Web log post. Agriculture.com. Caldwell, Jeff. 27 Aug. 2012. Web. 02 Jan. 2014.
“Era of Record Low Mortgage Rates Ending as Fed Begins Paring Back Bond Purchases.” Web log post. Farmland Investor Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Jan. 2014.