Jane Smiley, a former English professor at Iowa State University, wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about an Iowa farm family in the 1970s feuding over control of 1,000 acres. The Shakespearean drama that unfolded in the fictitious A Thousand Acres could be expected given the rapid increase in farmland values at the time.
U.S. farmland more than tripled during the decade, from $196 an acre in 1970 to $628 in 1979, according to U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) data. An acre averages $3,380 today – and a lot more in fertile Midwestern states – based on that same survey.
Today’s land appreciation is meant for investing, not fighting.
Nearly 40 years ago, I helped pioneer the idea of farmland as an investable asset class for institutional investors. At the time, farm country was embroiled in a financial crisis, but investors were willing to bet on agriculture’s bright future, especially as more farmers started renting acreage to scale operations.
Investors’ optimism rings just as true today. Why? Because farmland represents a large and under-allocated sector that provides steady appreciation and predictable income. Plus, the growth potential is tremendous. …