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Farmland real estate crash a growing concern

The ripples from a crash in farmland prices would not have the long-lasting effects on the economy that the subprime debacle did, but the chance of a crash in farmland prices should still concern policymakers.

Farmers have cash, and nowhere to invest it but farmland. Farmers largely ignore equities, as they tend to balance the inherent risk in farming by investing in what they perceive as less risky places. We aren’t dumb, however, and have figured out that it's a losing game to invest in bonds or CDs at rates less than inflation while we’re in tax brackets we never even knew existed.

We farmers should be more sophisticated than the average subprime borrower and more risk averse than startup investors in the 1990s. After all, we manage multi-million dollar businesses, and since the average age of farmers is near 60, most of us are survivors of the agricultural asset crash of the early 1980s.

In a population thus inoculated, we ought not to catch the fever again. It is a mark of the few investment choices left to farmers that we’ve so eagerly contributed to this unsustainable increase in land prices. We know better, we know it’s likely to end badly, but we don’t feel that we have an alternative.

For complete article, see The Next Real Estate Bubble: Farmland


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