Farm Progress

What do you do when there’s not much land on the market? Here’s what farm managers look for.

Jill Loehr, Associate Editor, Prairie Farmer

January 25, 2017

2 Min Read
SHOWCASE YOUR ABILITIES: “Do the best job you can on the acres you currently have, and that will give you a much better opportunity to get the call when acres become available,” advises Ross Albert, Soy Capital Ag Services.

You’ve done your homework and you’re ready to commit to more acres, but there’s one big obstacle in your way. Low inventory levels make it incredibly challenging to source farmland, says Ross Albert, Soy Capital Ag Services.

How can you find land when there’s barely any to be found? Albert offers five ways to seek out land to lease or buy:

1. Put yourself out there. “The bigger network you have, the bigger opportunity you have for leasing or buying land,” says Albert. Farmers who are actively involved in industry organizations like Farm Bureau or community organizations meet people they wouldn’t normally interact with through daily activities.

2. Look beyond your backyard. Farmers may pay a premium price for ground in close proximity. If you expand your “home” footprint by a county or two, Albert says you may be able to source land with similar productivity at a lower price. He explains that several factors like demographics, municipalities and average incomes all play a role in land prices, outside of “raw productivity.” One way to find land for sale beyond your normal range is by searching online. Companies like Soy Capital Ag Services list properties on their website.

3. Set yourself apart. “Do the best job you can on the acres you currently have, and that will give you a much better opportunity to get the call when acres become available,” Albert advises. If you are looking for land to rent, send an updated resume to farm management companies. Make sure to include details on fertility management and any equipment or programs that may improve the quality of the rented acres, such as drainage equipment or precision farming practices.  

“Every landowner has different goals,” Albert notes. “Not every landowner is about the cash return.”

Don’t forget to include basic information: hometown, family members, high school, college, references and other personal details you feel are important to share. Albert explains that relationships play a significant role in land transactions.

4. Promote your brand. Several farm operations have a website or Facebook page to promote themselves to landowners and potential landlords. The digital pages highlight the same features as a resume, but may include more details like photos of family, machinery or other assets. Albert adds that some farming operations publish a monthly or quarterly report to share updates. “Farming is a business, and people are using the same avenues any other business would to expand exposure,” he notes.

5. Use the proper channels. If land does become available in the area, either for rent or sale, interested farmers should follow appropriate protocol. “There’s a fine line between aggressively pursuing ground and maintaining relationships within the community,” Albert advises. If a landowner is selling land through a listing broker or farm manager, contact the right person and not the landowner. “The listing broker or farm manager was hired for a reason,” he says. “Don’t go around the process; follow the process.”

About the Author(s)

Jill Loehr

Associate Editor, Prairie Farmer, Loehr

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