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Corn+Soybean Digest

Building Wealth

In today’s agricultural industry, many are millionaires on paper yet having difficulty earning a dollar. Lets examine this quote a little more to place some perspectives on building wealth. Land and agricultural assets have historically been investments listed on the positive side of the ledger. Some will argue that the returns when including earned and appreciated net worth are approximately near stock investments averaging in double-digit numbers. However, upon further review, the capital appreciation to earned net worth is almost two to one.

The bottom line to building wealth is the ability to live within your means, meet expenses, and service debt over a long period of time. And wealth will accumulate in farm assets, particularly strategically located land. Historically, land near growing communities or amenity areas qualifies for the return. Recently, high-quality farm ground with mineral rights, water rights or recreational opportunities boosted the balance sheet.

Many producers would qualify for being The Millionaire Next Door. The following are some attributes Stanley and Danko discuss in their book:

  • 57-year-old male
  • Self-employed
  • Operations considered dull-normal
  • Wives do not work outside the home
  • Live below their means
  • Work between 45 and 55 hours per week

Many of the attributes look like the typical agricultural producer at my seminars as I travel as the Road Warrior. While farming is not dull by any means in today’s world, the other points provide a portrait of millionaires in the American farm and ranch landscape.

Editor’s note: Dave Kohl, The Corn And Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist specializing in business management and ag finance. He recently retired from Virginia Tech, but continues to conduct applied research and travel extensively in the U.S. and Canada, teaching ag and banking seminars and speaking to producer and agribusiness groups. He can be reached at

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