There are more than 225 real estate investment trusts (REITs) in the United States that are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission to trade on a stock exchange.
Farmland Partners is different than almost every one of them.
For example, most REITs invest in buildings. FPI buys land. And investing in land instead of traditional real estate takes a unique mentality.
This can be as complex as different ways to think about risk from obsolescence, fungibility, and vacancies, as described by Green Street Advisors in their report about farmland. Or it can be something as simple as the scale of an investment.
FPI deals in acres, not square feet. While most Americans understand a square foot, it can be hard to comprehend the vastness of an acre. So, allow us to add a little perspective.
- One acre equals 43,560 square feet – meaning Farmland Partners owns approximately 7 billion square feet of assets, or more than 250 square miles.
- All told, FPI owns more than 160,000 acres, which is bigger than Chicago, or more than 3.5 times the size of Washington, DC.
- The company also manages more than 25,000 acres on behalf of third parties. That’s an area about the size of Disney World, which includes four theme parks, two water parks, and more than 25 hotels and resorts for guests.
- Just one of our sod farms in South Carolina, Ten Mile, has 890 farmable acres, which would grow enough grass to turf nearly 675 American football fields.
- The biggest farm in our portfolio, Mermentau River in Louisiana, is 8,349 acres – the size of about 10 Central Parks.
And that’s just the FPI portfolio. According to a recent report on land use by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are 895 million acres of farmland in the country, which is more than three times bigger than California and Texas combined.
The USDA also recently updated its land value survey. It put a total value of America’s farm acres at more than $2.9 trillion. For perspective, only seven countries in the world have GDPs that large, according to World Bank data.
A figure as large as $2.9 trillion makes farmland investment seem daunting, but a dollar goes surprisingly far in agriculture.
The USDA reports that land used for crop production, like most of FPI’s portfolio, costs an average of $5,050 per acre across America. A pretty good deal when you consider the average monthly rent for an apartment in Manhattan eclipsed $5,000 in June 2022.
Of course, when you work in agriculture, you don’t just think in financial terms. You think in terms of feeding people.
Each U.S. farm feeds, on average, 166 people domestically and abroad, says the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).
Farmland Partners owns more than 340 farms. So, using AFBF’s math, our portfolio is putting food on the table for more than 56,000 people – enough people to fill Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
And we believe the number of mouths fed is significantly higher because the AFBF figure is calculated using every farm in America, even the smallest. Extrapolating from AFBF’s formula and taking into account the larger size of farms in the FPI portfolio, we estimate that our farms could be feeding more than 400,000 people.
And we’re still looking to grow.