Plunging stock markets, disappearing debt and weakening currencies have encouraged investors to buy about $25 billion in U.S. farmland over the past decade.
A small slice of that cash has come from investors keen to own land managed with “sustainable” technologies: non-GMO diversity instead of chemical-dependent, biotech monocultures.
We expect those ecologically mission-minded investment firms to grow. Prices for organic production have held firm while bulk export commodities like corn, soybeans and wheat keep sinking.
One of the most extensive descriptions of farmland funds is a feature by Dean Kuipers, Buying the Farm in Orion Magazine.
He cites the efforts of land investment consultant Renee Cheung: “Cheung points out that sustainable farming, however, is more resilient and may turn out to be the big winner in the long run. Conventional farming relies on crop subsidies, cheap oil, and draining aquifers without restraint, among other delicate conditions. When those conditions change, sustainable operations will be positioned to grow where conventional methods may fail.”
Another example is the investment and management firm Grasslands, LLC. This investment group holds six ranch properties, operating them under holistic grazing principles proven by Alan Savory, the South African consultant whose influence is now felt worldwide through the Savory Institute network.
When Professional Farmers of America hosted “Renewable Farming” seminars in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Alan Savory was one of the seminar leaders.
Another small investment firm is Farmland LP, which states its mission up front: Converting conventional farmland to organic, sustainable farmland.” Since 2009 the firm has acquired over 9,700 acres in California and Oregon. The stated goals of the management team of Farmland LP offers clear evidence that this type of mission is likely to infuse many others inside the farming and investment communities. (At this link, scroll down to “Meet the Team.”)