This page has been archived and commenting is disabled.

Guest Post: The Case For Owning Farmland (In One Simple Statistic)

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Simon Black of Sovereign Man blog,

In investing, it’s often said that nothing goes up or down in a straight line.

Stocks, bonds, commodities… they all go through periods of growth, correction, collapse, mania, etc.

We’re seeing this right now with respect to a substantial decline in the nominal gold price after more than 12 straight years of gains.

But I’ve just recently come across an investment trend that has posted the same results for more than 20-years straight. And it’s actually quite alarming.

Every human being on the planet requires sustenance… typically measured in Calories per day.

What’s interesting is that the global average of per-capita Calorie consumption has increased a whopping 24.6% since 1964.

So over the last fifty years, the data clearly show that human beings are eating more… now to an average of roughly 2,940 Calories per person per day.

As you can probably guess, most of the rise has taken place in East Asia just over the last two decades, owing to the increased wealth in that part of the world.

Roughly a billion people have been lifted out of poverty in Asia alone. And as people begin to generate income and accumulate savings, their dietary habits have invariably changed. They eat more, i.e. demand more Calories.

As we eat more, we require more resources from the world. And in the case of food, this means more arable land to grow crops.

But there’s another twist to this trend. As people become wealthier, they not only eat more, but they also begin to consume more resource consumptive foods– especially meat.

It takes a lot more land to grow a kilogram of beef than it does to grow a kilogram of tomatoes. The difference can often be an order of magnitude greater.

So when you look at the demand side of this equation, per capita food consumption is increasing… and we are also consuming a vastly greater amount of land-intensive foods.

In short, the global trend is that we are demanding a much greater amount of arable land per person.

Yet the data on the supply side show the precise opposite.

According to World Bank data, the global average of arable land per person has been on a one-way decline since 1992.

In fact, since 1964, there has only been one year that the global average of arable land per person has increased. In every other instance over the last five decades, arable land per person has declined.

This is an astounding trend.

Our modern ‘science’ is stepping in to address this trend. It’s why much of what we eat is now concocted in a laboratory rather than grown on a farm. It’s why McDonalds puts pink slime in its hamburgers instead of… you know… beef.

But even still, science only goes so far.

Yields for many staple crops (like wheat) essentially hit a wall about ten years ago. After decades of miraculous gains in the amount of tons, bushels, and kilograms per acre we have been able to extract from the Earth, productive capacity has largely plateaued.

In other words, we have maxed out what we can pull out of the soil for now. And the amount of soil per person that’s in production is in serious decline.

To me, this spells out an obvious case for investing in agriculture… and even more specifically, to own farmland.



- advertisements -

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:13 | 4265065 TeamDepends
TeamDepends's picture

Sure, like the average 23 year-old who's glued to their Iphone has the patience for farming.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:17 | 4265080 Duke of Earl
Duke of Earl's picture

Does Farmville count?

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:22 | 4265095 Pladizow
Pladizow's picture

Supply is scarce, quick run out and buy!

Nice sales pitch but how's that worked out for other commodities?

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:25 | 4265096 hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture



In other words, we have maxed out what we can pull out of the soil for now.

Not true. SO much fallow land in Texas it is mind boggling.  In China, they farm the medians of the highways.  HEre, we mow them.

Our cauliflower looks good right now.

I am going to make some cream of cauliflower soup this weekend.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:24 | 4265110 walküre
walküre's picture

Where are you farming to be harvesting cauliflower? My fields are covered in snow!

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:31 | 4265134 hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture




Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:37 | 4265158 walküre
walküre's picture

Nice. WA for me.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:51 | 4265212 negative rates
negative rates's picture

I don't think were in Kansas anymore.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:01 | 4265249 HobbyFarmer
HobbyFarmer's picture

Ok, my 2 cents. Don't invest money in farmland. Instead, invest time/effort improving what you currently have. Plant a garden, add some fruit trees, get some chickens (they are so easy to take care of!), etc on the land you have today. Go small and focus on raising wholesome, delicious food to replace (at least some) of the food from the store.

Few individuals reading this will make money on farming, but everybody reading this can benefit from improving their own yards.

Compost everything! Improve your helps having animals that aren't fed GMO products (my cow provides nearly 100 pounds of compost/urine per day!) but it isn't necessary to have large animals. Learn about permaculture. Plant some fruit and nut trees. Find which types of plants will pull nitrogen into the ground and plant those around your trees (comfrey, alfalfa, clover). These plants will build your soil AND provide food for bees.

Start somewhere and start now. There are steps you can do today, even during winter soltice, that will improve things come spring. It takes nature 100 years to build 1 inch of can speed that process up immensely (and reduce garbage to the landfill) by composting. Good soil holds water, air, nutrients, life and will increase the harvest you get from anything you plant!

We own 4 acres. I consider it a hobby since I work full-time in an office and manage my micro-farming in my spare time. We're able to raise beef cows, a milk cow, pigs, chickens, 10 different fruit trees and dozens of types of veggies. It's my hobby, I do it for fun not for an investment. I do it because it's a great way to raise a family, good exercise, and anything I produce is tax-free. For Christmas this year we are giving hundreds of pounds of beef, hams, bacon, pork chops, jams, pickles, etc to friends, family, and a women's shelter. Doing this is rewarding, but I wouldn't say it's financially lucrative.

If anybody is deluded enough to buy a farm to make money, I worry they terribly underestimate the costs associated with getting it started. I'd suggest to those individuals to go volunteer at a dairy or small farm and see how much they worry about costs....few practicing farmers are rich. I personally know many farmers who work over a hundred hours every single week (dairy farmers-->most have no idea!)...imagine how much they'd make in a consulting job somewhere with those hours....

Start small. With youtube videos of successful permaculture micro-farms along with hundreds of fantastic books on the topic, everybody can begin improving whatever acreage they have today and reduce future reliance on the system.

Worry about Peak Oil? Worry about GMO foods? Worry about dying beehives? Worry about cancer? Proper farming techniques can help solve/alleviate all the ills we have today.

But don't do it because somebody online says there is money to be made owning the farm land.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:08 | 4265264 Z_End
Z_End's picture

Great post and perspective. Thanks!


Fri, 12/20/2013 - 22:43 | 4265974 SafelyGraze
SafelyGraze's picture


and yet depressingly overwhelming

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:12 | 4265271 walküre
walküre's picture

Soil is good but without heat, your best soil won't produce anything. Heat is a commodity we don't value enough imo. If you happen to live on land where heat is year round and you don't have to supply any additional heat or operate greenhouses, you're laughing. The cost of heat = energy is making farming also more difficult. Makes a big difference if you can harvest once, twice or year round. If you need to pay for heat to produce, the market price better support that expense.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:24 | 4265297 HobbyFarmer
HobbyFarmer's picture

sepp holzer using permaculture techniques (ponds, rock walls, hugulkulture, piles of manure) to get past the heat issue....he's at 1500 meters elevation in the Alps, I believe.  His average yearly temperature isn't above 40 degrees but he can grow citrus.

I appreciate your comment and don't want to come off as a dick disagreeing with you...but proper farming techniques can overcome nearly any obstacle. 

I'm looking to add a sunken greenhouse to my wisconsin farm this summer, goal is winter temps in the 50's at night without any outside source of heat. 

I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

edited: after re-reading your comment, I realize that I misunderstood your main premise.  I have given an example of somebody who values heat and done extensive work to increase the heat retention of his property.  Plus one to you, sir.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 18:25 | 4265451 fonestar
fonestar's picture

What is a farm?

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 18:40 | 4265484 jimmytorpedo
jimmytorpedo's picture

A farm is a place where you use dirt, water and sunshine to create something of value.

Unless it's a server farm where you "mine" digital number sequences which have no intrinsic value.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 21:18 | 4265791 dark pools of soros
dark pools of soros's picture

if you say gold has intrinsic value because of its utility, so does bitcoin in its many ways of secure transactions (I said secure, not secret)


to say govs will someday block its utility still doesn't take away its intrinsic nature.   just like if some gov blocks all use of gold and buries every oz... its intrinsic value is just buried then.


bitcoin isn't some collectible pog or whatever..  the blockchain has intrinsic value..  shutting off the grid, or blocking its use just leaves the use untapped.  


bitcoin will be viewed as either a mutation that was cast out or a genesis of something new that grows....just think if you replaced all the recent events of bitcoin and instead go back before the internet and imagine gold was just discovered and before the govs/banks etc all controlled gold...

well..FDR outlawed it after it has been around for 5000+ years, so of course if it was brand new it would be under the same attack as bitcoin is today


One things bitcoin has proved is that most ZH readers will never fight the system..  they may avoid TPTB like rodents, but will never stand up in any 'Give me Liberty or Give me Death' scenario


Sat, 12/21/2013 - 19:28 | 4267203 TheReplacement
TheReplacement's picture

Gold relies on nothing to exist.  BTC relies on power, computers, network protocols, ewallets, and so on.  Gold is real.  BTC is virtual.  Gold has utility beyond money, including as a projectile slung from a slingshot to kill game after the world has ended.  BTC does not.  A poor man without a computer but with shelter will trade for gold.  BTC has no value to him.  There is no possible way for the NSA to track gold that is traded person to person.  BTC, not so sure.

Faith, it's what religions are built upon.  BTC is just another faith based system of belief.  We've had a lot of those.  Very few have stood the test of time.  No faith based currency system has ever stood the test of time.  This time is different right?

Sat, 12/21/2013 - 23:16 | 4267623 dark pools of soros
dark pools of soros's picture

you might need to re-read what I wrote instead of just forcing what you thought I wrote into your broken record response

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 20:43 | 4265720 Jumbotron
Jumbotron's picture

It's not the server farm where you grow Shitcoin.....just in case that's what you had in mind.

LOL !!!!

You know how Shitcoin is just like can't eat either one.  But a nicely baked Golden Idaho Potato or one a soup made from those is priceless on a cold winter's night.

Shitcoin.....well.......    LOL !!!    I guess the heat coming from my SLI chained Nvidia Titan GPU's could keep my quite toasty......but I would be hungry as well.

Sat, 12/21/2013 - 12:35 | 4266631 Tijuana Donkey Show
Tijuana Donkey Show's picture

Fonestar, you're MDB. Admit it!

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 20:45 | 4265721 msmith9962
msmith9962's picture

Awesome!  Absolutely.  Sepp Holzer, Paul Wheaton, Fukuoka.  Excellent stuff.


Heat the greanhouse with a rocket mass heater. 

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 21:08 | 4265767 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

+ geoff lawton, eliot coleman.

I garden year round in unheated greenhouses and under plastic where the average northwest winter temperature is 40. It hit 14 about a week ago but an extra layer got them through.    

and healthy food fights bankers, oilmen, obamacare and just about everything else 

permacultre is also incredibly efficient, redundant and resilient - like economies should be.

Then again, economies should reflect natural systems not try to control them.  

primates can recognize and eat hundreds of edibles

and we wonder why corn syrup, pesticides and GMOs have made us weak 

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 18:02 | 4265401 Seer
Seer's picture

And heat also burns up soils...

Get closer to the equator and you'll find that soils there are mightly thin.  In God's infinite humor, we have rich soils farther away from the warm spots and thinner nearer the warm spots...

Oh, "farming" can also include livestock.  When many vegetable crops have long since given up animals can still keep going, and the fodder for them as well: it's why I long-ago saw the value in grass-farming (which requires animals, grazers to be specific).

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 18:50 | 4265502 css1971
css1971's picture

True, but there are many sources of heat.

On a smallish scale (garden/hobby/smallholder) polytunnels or high polytunnels are cheap to build (just some pvc pipe, rebar anchors and polythene sheet) and will basically turn your midwinter into the tropics and you can run them quite a distance.

Compost generates a lot of heat, run a compost pile along the shaded north half of the high polytunnel and the produce in the south sun facing side.

Another trick for greenhouses or high polytunnels in winter with low sun angle is 1/2 litre aluminium beer cans. Cut a big hole in the top and bottom of each of the cans, punch a couple of small side holes for string in the top to hang it up, then spray paint it matt black. Hang a line of them along the length of  the center pole of the tunnel at the top. Free solar collector.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 19:13 | 4265540 Zadok
Zadok's picture

There is some good permaculture stuff toward the bottom regarding heating a greenhouse.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:45 | 4265359 dizzyfingers
dizzyfingers's picture

HobbyFarmer: Good advice. Thanks.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:59 | 4265393 Seer
Seer's picture

I'm afraid that where many people are isn't exactly conducive to farming activities.

Do things because you WANT to do them, because you're behind doing them.  Sure, if it takes self-programming to position yourself then so be it: we're so poorly programmed that this thought shouldn't be as horrific as it may sound.

BTW - Let's quit with the "hobby farm" notations.  Anyone who actually does work on a farm KNOWS that it ain't no hobby: breaking ice, trudging through puddles of water and mud... yeah, it's just like collecting baseball cards!

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 18:10 | 4265414 HobbyFarmer
HobbyFarmer's picture

One of my favorite recent farm books is the woman in the ghetto in Oakland who farms.  She raised pigs, chickens, turkeys, geese and planted on an empty lot next to her apartment...surrounded by shootings, prostitutes, drug deals, etc.  It can be done anywhere.  The mountains (rice growers in Virginia), the desert (see Lawson's 'greening the desert'), even the city.

I hand-milk my Guernsey when it's 10 or 15 below zero in my pole-barn and I shovel manure twice a day every day 365 days a year.  I put up hay during the sweatiest summer months, remove unwanted plants from my pasture, care for injured animals, walk my property line in sub zero temps to see if branches have fallen on my electric lines.  I know how hard it is, but to me it really is a hobby.  I put time/money into it and am rewarded in other ways than financial. 

But I do get your point.  I am a parent, too.  It costs money, time, effort and I'm not rewarded financially....and I don't consider that a hobby.


Fri, 12/20/2013 - 19:12 | 4265536 css1971
css1971's picture

You forgot to mention the vast piles of shit.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 19:16 | 4265546 Zadok
Zadok's picture

Grazers auto distribute manure around the pasture, and if you stack multi species (cows, goats, sheep, chickens) you almost do everything as you rotate the pasture.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 20:00 | 4265623 css1971
css1971's picture

Along with the shit goes endoparasites. You don't really want them auto distributing.

Sat, 12/21/2013 - 20:29 | 4267289 TheReplacement
TheReplacement's picture

It's amazing you are still alive.  What on earth can you eat that is safe?

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 18:20 | 4265430 Rantabulous
Rantabulous's picture

HobbyFarmer - thanks for the post. I agree with all that you have written and am doing the same.

A small contribution I would make to this thread is to recommend that people speak to people already doing this kind of thing. I am probably at the point where I could write a book on all the things I have done wrong. It is satisfying to experiment and develop new systems that run like a swiss watch - but damn there is some hard work involved sometimes.

Also research for some really great new thinking on small scale intensive food production - there is some great stuff out there - from simple things like wicking beds to backyard aquaponics and much, much more - cutting edge backyard/hobbyfarm food production aint your daddy's Victory Garden.... you can still start small with these systems and build them from stuff people have thrown away too.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 18:36 | 4265475 jimmytorpedo
jimmytorpedo's picture

5 acres will support a family of 4.

When you go larger, your costs increase astronomically.

I probably work two hours a week just to pay for the electricity to keep the 5 tractors plugged in and ready to go.

I could use 1 tractor and spend 4 hours a week switching shit around, take off snow blower and hook up manure spreader etc etc.

Farming cannot be considered a job because you would quit if you ever calculated how much you make an hour.

Bottle feeding a (free) orphan baby cow, finding a turkey hen who has wandered off to build a nest next to the foxes den, bringing a colicky horse for a 2 hour trailer ride to settle its' stomach, fixing broken fences, digging up broken tile drains, these aren't part of the 100 hour work week, but you still need to do them.

I give my maple syrup away because I calculated that if I were to sell it I would have to ask about $30 for 500ml.

The only way to make money farming is to plant 2000 acres in Natto (soy) beans. But then you live in a toxic cloud of round up with a poisoned well and funny looking grand kids. Look at combine prices, $165 000 for a used one.

If you don't like to weld, tinker with electrics, dig A LOT, nurse sick animals, get covered in hydraulic fluid and generally futz around with stuff DON"T BE A FARMER. (Oh ya, I forgot to add,eat Advil by the fucking handful)

The plus side? I eat well and can often convince my wife to drop her drawers for a quickie in the hay loft/sugar shack/up against a tractor, and nobody blames me for smelling like alcohol pretty much all day long.

If I go one day without bleeding too much (and getting a shag) it was a good day.

Money? Well, when we sell the 455 acres at 4500/acre, then we'll have some money. Until then, I will re-weld that broken PTO shaft over and over again because $165 for a new one is not in the budget.

Hobby farmer=smart

Simon Black=dink

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 19:23 | 4265552 Zadok
Zadok's picture

True, from a natural perspective, none of the articles assumptions are valid. Natural farming forces small and creative approaches as opposed to brute force, and the WORK! I've never been so strong but you feel the age creeping up on you because you give it all you've got. Best living I've ever done though.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 23:51 | 4266076 joe90
joe90's picture

Yes and who will you sell to?  The geared up farmer down the road expanding their empire who will GMO/coproratise/monocult/specialise and will be adviser and ROI driven.  And you'll retire in town with bank balance at the end of oil powered food-chain miles.  Not saying that it's you specifically (455 acres is a bit, but how would someone similar to you pay off the loan needed to buy your place?).  Millions in cities can't be supported by small farms.  Kids don't want to take over Mum and Dads farm, big city jobs beckon.  The small diverse operation farm is gobbled up.

Sat, 12/21/2013 - 06:03 | 4266294 samcontrol
samcontrol's picture


you are cool!

you should partner up with somebody with 2 million in fiat and no farm.

Sat, 12/21/2013 - 20:32 | 4267295 TheReplacement
TheReplacement's picture

Owning farmland is not the same as being a farmer.  Investing is not the same as working. 

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 19:10 | 4265533 cro_maat
cro_maat's picture

Well I live in Brooklyn and can't build a greenhouse on the roof. I plan on buying farmland but not to make fake fiat $ or trade for Bitcoin (Note to Fonestar: Ramp up the Bitcoin marketing campaign for rural farmers and see if they will trade their non-GMO heirloom veggies for Bitcoin. I suspect they would rather have my silver.) I have friends doing permaculture farming who have been teaching me and I have looked at the Sepp Holzer videos and studied Bill Mollison's design book. Thanks for the post HobbyFarmer but I think you do the farmer's a serious injustice when you say that few are rich. If you are talking large fiat accounts at institutions that will rehypothicate / steal at a moments notice then you are correct. But if you are talking quality of life, real food sustance and a lifestyle that can remove one from the Matrix then I would say most farmers are pretty damn rich.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 19:15 | 4265544 HobbyFarmer
HobbyFarmer's picture

I stand corrected!  :)

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 20:36 | 4265714 jimmytorpedo
jimmytorpedo's picture

I live richly.

But I'm not rich.

Farm on!

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 20:32 | 4265698 mkkby
mkkby's picture

Hobby and Hedgeless -- do you butcher the animals yourself, and if so how do you learn to do that correctly?  Or perhaps you hire that out.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 21:06 | 4265772 DaddyO
DaddyO's picture

Try this link or search out Marjory Wildcraft,

She not only talks the talk but walks the walk.

She actually does live demonstrations in her talks where she kills and butchers a rabbit to demonstrate her techniques.

I know her to be a very honest, down to earth woman who knows her stuff...


Fri, 12/20/2013 - 21:27 | 4265821 HobbyFarmer
HobbyFarmer's picture

zero experience butchering prior to starting my farm....2.5 years into this experience and I have butchered Guinea Hens, ducks, chickens, fish, and turkeys.  I've had my pigs and steer professionally done by a butcher I found through my sons 4-h program (he even picked the animals up for me since I don't have a trailer).

I have several Hmong friends (they were our allies during the Vietnam war, great gardeners/growers and very industrious).  When they found out a paid to butcher my pigs, several families offered to teach me how next year, in exchange for some of the finished products.  A very fair trade.

So, I am learning.  I also asked my butcher if I might volunteer to help with his steer butchering....he told me to come over anytime.  So, the opportunity to learn is there.

Maybe not the answer you're looking for....I'm still learning! 

Sat, 12/21/2013 - 10:31 | 4266469 Casey Stengel
Casey Stengel's picture

HobbyFarmer are you in the upper midwest? I loved reading what you wrote in this thread. Mrs Stengel milked in the evening and I did the morning. one cow, a real sweetheart jersey cross. Chicken for eggs and meat. Killer compost. Milking finished and sun is not quite up....contentment.

Sun, 12/22/2013 - 20:08 | 4269487 HobbyFarmer
HobbyFarmer's picture

in the off chance you return to this thread, yes!  I live in Wisconsin.  Fantastic area...great farming, wonderful people, great businesses, strong work-ethic.

If I couldn't have got a Guernsey, I would've found a jersey.  awesome animals.  My cow rests her head on my shoulder every morning.  She thinks she's a 900 pound puppy!


Fri, 12/20/2013 - 22:04 | 4265905 hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture



We butcher our rabbits, chicken, and wild game.  Although I learned how to butcher from my uncle (elk and deer) and have all of the equipment, we take our beef to a butcher so it can age correctly, and the butcher makes great sausage.



Fri, 12/20/2013 - 22:33 | 4265961 El Vaquero
El Vaquero's picture

I just don't have all of the equipment to butcher large animals with anything approaching ease, so I do not have the practice.  I can gut, skin and quarter no problem, but butchering is a whole other ball game when the animal is large.


I did hang my elk for a week in my garage, which stayed between 38-40f the whole time, but you are most certainly correct that beef needs to age correctly.  Then I took it to a butcher who butchers game on the side in a little building in his back yard.  He knows what he's doing, he's cheap, but he doesn't have a place to age an elk.  He did in 3 or so hours what would have taken me probably 2 full days, and I wouldn't have gotten cuts like t-bones since I don't have a bandsaw for meat.  (I now have about 5lbs of elk marinating in both a red chile marinade and a green chile marinade that I am going to put in the smoker tomorrow to dry into jerky.)


Rabbits, however, are no big deal, although most of what I have butchered are cotton tails and jack rabbits, which are hares and not true rabbits.  I've found that the skin is a bit harder to get off of a true rabbit than it is off of a hare. 

Sat, 12/21/2013 - 06:06 | 4266298 samcontrol
samcontrol's picture

i love english, but butcher is a shity word.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 23:18 | 4266036 Xanadu_doo
Xanadu_doo's picture

Super smart, man. Start small. Compost. Use cover crops and build your soil - even marginal soils can produce great bounty if nurtured. Supplment your primary proteins with fresh fruits and veggies. And can everything you can't eat or share locally.

Sat, 12/21/2013 - 00:49 | 4266137 chemystical
chemystical's picture

4 acres supports beef cows (plural), a dairy cow, and pigs (plural), and chickens and trees and produce??   The cows aint grazing then; you must be haying them ALOT.  Must be awfully crowded.  We too have livestock and they occupy a lot of room.

Chickens?  Yeah, they can live in your garage or den :)

Sat, 12/21/2013 - 15:24 | 4266910 fedupwhiteguy
fedupwhiteguy's picture

great post hobbyfarmer!! i too want to transition over to some sort of hobby farm. I'm reluctant to purchase property at this time as other contributors to ZH have stated that farm land is in a bubble. any who..... i'm not gonna buy when prime farmland is going for 10k+/acre.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:05 | 4265259 Uncle Remus
Uncle Remus's picture

Oi, no small blessing that.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:26 | 4265313 Overfed
Overfed's picture

A fellow denizen of FEMA region X. ;-)

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:48 | 4265193 Pooper Popper
Pooper Popper's picture

Just a shot in the dark here,but Im thinking they're in Texas.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 21:56 | 4265883 Blame Crash
Blame Crash's picture

Just snow! You're lucky.

I bought a piece of land here in Canada with a glacier on it. I did it after listening to Al Gore.

Sat, 12/21/2013 - 06:11 | 4266300 samcontrol
samcontrol's picture

dood, that is like buying a beach house in the Seychelles or having an account in pesos......

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:25 | 4265114 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

It's good to be in farming.  So much for the kings of old...

< meh >

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:29 | 4265128 Frank N. Beans
Frank N. Beans's picture

Yes the US has plenty of unplowed land.

Some land lies fallow because of government subsidies to farmers not to plant to keep prices up.

A lot of land lies fallow because it's owned by the federal government agencies and what are the feds gonna do, farm?


Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:39 | 4265163 walküre
walküre's picture

Hedgies bought land to park excess capital. Not farming the land and driving prices to a point where it's impossible to make a start as first generation farmer.


Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:50 | 4265217 MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

The land is farmed and they're earning some solid returns on it...  but yes, it's cost prohibitive for startups.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:38 | 4265343 Crash Overide
Crash Overide's picture

If more people farmed, a lot of other things would take care of themselves...

I try to learn something new everyday to become more self sufficient.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:54 | 4265226 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

Unfortunately, the devil is in the details, and you need a bit more that simply land to grow your own food.


Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:40 | 4265348 Crash Overide
Crash Overide's picture

6000lbs of food on 1/10th of an acre...

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 18:19 | 4265425 Seer
Seer's picture

Ever hear of Masanobu Fukuoka?  Perhaps one of the greatest farmers to ever walk this earth.  As easy as he made things sound/appear, no one is able to match his feats (which have been proven): and it's not for lack of trying.

When you can achieve 6000lbs of food production on 1/10th of an acre up in Alaska (outside of a highly controlled environment like a greenhouse) then that is when I'll take this as anything other than being an oddity (and, well, it's great, but scalability)...

Environments are different, so much so that the term "micro climate" is readily used.  And then there's this year and next... (this year my wife grew a tomato that a master gardner that I know said doesn't really grow here- I can't recall how many pounds that sucker was! it was an unusual year and I highly doubt that I'll see another any time soon [unless climate change is bringing "warming" my way])

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 20:11 | 4265639 DaddyO
DaddyO's picture

Look up Eliot Coleman for a primer on how to feed many families on 5 acres.

I've been using his techniques for many years, my first crop of broccoli and cauliflower is already in the septic tank.

Succession planting allows for prolonged sustenance on minimal ground.

I have 5 acres surrounding my house and between the chickens and vegetable garden, we eat well. The 20 acre orange grove to the south provides several different varieties of citrus as well as mellons interplanted among the rows.

We only have about three months in the year that are difficult to grow things,June, July and August. About the only thing that will grow and fruit is Okra, everything else stops producing when the temp gets around 90F.

We use strictly organic methods with as little off farm input as possible.


btw: Nice head H_H

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:00 | 4265242 MeBizarro
MeBizarro's picture

Not really especially with commodity prices as high as they were 2 years.  You had people plowing more acreage in '10 and '11 than almost any time on record.  Federal gov't owns a lot of land especially out West but a lot of it is completely worhtless from a commerical farming perspective.

Look at this way - US federal gov't f@cked over the Native Americans with every treaty they made with them for over 100 years (closer to 150 years) and took land time and time again that white farmers, cattlemen, and the railroads wanted.  Literally left the bottom of the barrel.  

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:58 | 4265392 AGuy
AGuy's picture

Water is a big issue. Lots of farms shutdown because of insufficient water.

Large Farms are also very energy intensive. It takes a lot of diesel for large scale production and harvesting.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 18:22 | 4265441 Seer
Seer's picture

I'd read that just pumping water takes up 10% of California's total(?) energy consumption.

I've dealt a bit with wells and pumps, so I have a bit of awareness of the need to use energy to manage water.

The value/power of diesel isn't understood by most.  People can talk all they want about "atlernative fuels," but what makes things work are those things that run on diesel, and it just ain't looking like anything is going to come close to replacing diesel...

Sat, 12/21/2013 - 02:07 | 4266194 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

it's about holding and capturing the water the way nature designed it - not the way we've destroyed the topsoil and all the sponge qualities. Permaculture and rebuilding the topsoil with organic and microorganisms plus swales to hold the water and let it soak into the ground.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 18:09 | 4265416 Seer
Seer's picture

The "subsidies" for fallowing land are more about insurance against ravaged soils.  Like anything else that's attached to $$s there's abuse, but abuse in no way negates the value/logic in the method (fallowing land).

Much land has been spoiled due to ignorance.  And once spoiled it takes a LONG time to get back into shape.

As a farmer I'm more sensitive to the actual realities that farmers experience and, though I'm no fan of big corproate farms, I believe that this also applies to large-scale farming (because there's still some basic elements that even they have to abide by).

I don't normally lash out with such venom, but those who don't know about farming should STFU (until they actually learn something).

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:32 | 4265146 tip e. canoe
tip e. canoe's picture

so do the Cubans (farm the medians).

the key in this equation is how to grow healthy plants in areas where the soil isn't considered "arable", but has potential to be so with a little knowledge, some applied technology, a bit of hard work.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:35 | 4265154 El Vaquero
El Vaquero's picture


In China, they farm the medians of the highways.  HEre, we mow them.

Yeah, I've been thinking lately that people would be much better served ripping out a significant portion of their lawns and growing food. 


But then again, I don't like how agriculture works in this country. 

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:32 | 4265326 Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill's picture

Brought back memories of Iran in the Shah days.

All the hemp you could ever want growing in the median.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 18:27 | 4265452 Seer
Seer's picture

In China they'd dump their human waste on fields as well: I believe this is why "stir fry" became so popular.  Less today than in the past.

The microbial activity is probably pretty poor along medians, and, I'd strongly figure, underneath concrete/blacktop.  Yes, we will start questioning the sanity of lawns, which I'd done a LONG time ago: I'm kind of stuck with the turf over my septic's drainfield though- ugh!

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 20:08 | 4265638 hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture



I'm kind of stuck with the turf over my septic's drainfield though

Asparagus patch.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:57 | 4265208 Solon the Destroyer
Solon the Destroyer's picture

Simon is throwing a lot of bullcrap against the wall and hoping that some of it sticks. He has clearly not done his research.

He has not read this article of capitulation by the former vegan diet promoting Monbiot, nor the book he reviews:

Nor is he taking into account disappearing demographics or the effect of a possible systemic economic crash on diets, agricultural commodities or land values.

I am not a big fan of Monbiot or the Statist socilaism he advocates, but I give him full credit for publicly admitting he was wrong.  I doubt Simon would do the same.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:52 | 4265218 negative rates
negative rates's picture

I could use 4 or 5 of those for an appitizer right now, don't let um bolt on ya next week.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:54 | 4265230 MeBizarro
MeBizarro's picture

Where in Texas are you at? 

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:01 | 4265237 BlackMagician
BlackMagician's picture


Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:30 | 4265319 Recognizer
Recognizer's picture

If there's anything that will make people less likely to farm for themselves, it's cauliflower.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:50 | 4265345 hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture



Fresh cauliflower is very different from the school-lunch vegetable you may have experienced as a child.  The taste and texture is amazing.

Yes, it is also good for you...

Cruciferous vegetables are rich in nutrients, including several carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin); vitamins C, E, and K; folate; and minerals. They also are a good fiber source. 

In addition, cruciferous vegetables contain a group of substances known as glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing chemicals. These chemicals are responsible for the pungent aroma and bitter flavor of cruciferous vegetables.

During food preparation, chewing, and digestion, the glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables are broken down to form biologically active compounds such as indoles, nitriles, thiocyanates, and isothiocyanates (1). Indole-3-carbinol (an indole) and sulforaphane (an isothiocyanate) have been most frequently examined for their anticancer effects.

Indoles and isothiocyanates have been found to inhibit the development of cancer in several organs in rats and mice, including the bladder, breast, colon, liver, lung, and stomach (2, 3). Studies in animals and experiments with cells grown in the laboratory have identified several potential ways in which these compounds may help prevent cancer:

    They help protect cells from DNA damage.
    They help inactivate carcinogens.
    They have antiviral and antibacterial effects.
    They have anti-inflammatory effects.
    They induce cell death (apoptosis).
    They inhibit tumor blood vessel formation (angiogenesis) and tumor cell migration (needed for metastasis).

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 18:31 | 4265465 Seer
Seer's picture

Not questioning you here...  but, I'll take my broccoli over cauliflower (childhood trauma? racist [don't like white]?): this next season I'll be able to harvest- have to wait until the third year before harvesting and then it's good to go.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:36 | 4265341 YC2
YC2's picture

I have seen from some good sources that we have overcapacity in Ag in the US in everything but the very short term, from some decent sources.  They could be stale figures, but I doubt it.  Most mature industries develop overcapacity and their margins shrink.  Ag is about as mature as it gets.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 23:16 | 4266031 Xanadu_doo
Xanadu_doo's picture

Amen, brother. Build a healthy soil and you'll grow healthy crops. You don't need a farm, just some ground to till to raise even some of your own food.


Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:28 | 4265121 Kayman
Kayman's picture

I know a certain hedgefund desperately trying to package their farmland and feedlots into an IPO to dump a money loser onto the general public as soon as possible.

It's time to get out of farmland.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 19:28 | 4265562 Zadok
Zadok's picture

Perhaps I can soon buy 5 acres to get back to it? Some sanity in property might let me escape the rental, did I say finally?

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:18 | 4265085 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

I read somewhere a while back that the CHEAPEST biomass/$ was in the Eastern Chaco region of Paraguay.  It is remote and has variable rainfall.  That part of South America does sit on top of the Guarani Reservoir, perhaps the world's largest.

I have read, but no one has been able to confirm, that "W" bought a big ranch in that area.

Perhaps Simon Black would write something about that.  If you can get farmable land for less than $100 per acre, that would be an interesting thing for some of us to know about...

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:32 | 4265136 walküre
walküre's picture

Friend of mine and his buddies bought into a cattle farm in Paraguay. Apparently it is doing well for them. Less than $100 per acre agreable land sounds wonderful. One thing to consider is that the local market will only support the cost of products based on $100 / acre. Obviously the meat or grains are being shipped to markets where prices are higher. That's a cool margin and if trade agreements are in place, the farmer in Paraguay can make a killing. It's completely desastrous for the farmers in North America and Western Europe who need to be subsidized or their only option is to shut down operations. Ben's ZIRP has totally skewed the grain prices to the point where our farmers are getting shafted in the race to the bottom. While I can imagine a nice piece of beef from Paraguay, I avoid buying Costco's Chinese pork like the plague. What the Chinese are raising their hogs on is left to anyone's imagination. I'd rather not know. Some things cannot be cheated.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:50 | 4265205 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Gold, fish!  BTC for CA$H locally.  Step-by-step instructions!

You (kindly) asked how it went.  Here is the story:


Interesting comments about raising cattle in Paraguay.  I guess my only comment would be that if Paraguay has the infrastructure to allow beef exports to the USA and Europe (not being forced to sell to Brazil or Argentina), then there might be real $$$ to made.  But, you have to live in remote Paraguay...  Or trust someone there...

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:02 | 4265253 MeBizarro
MeBizarro's picture

Thanks to our global food masters the US has one of the most deplorable food country of origin laws on out-of-country packaging of any industrialized coutnry in the world.  Irony is that even China has a better practice generally the US. 

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:31 | 4265325 walküre
walküre's picture

Sixteen Thousand dead pigs weren't swimming on the Mississipi, they floated down some Chinese river.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:53 | 4265383 MeBizarro
MeBizarro's picture

So what does that have to do with product food labeling including whether it is a GMO product and the country of origin?  US provides a bare minimum of information on the country of origin on products only when required by the FDA and does jack $hit on GMO stuff.  Frankly it is deplorably and even Mexico has better standards in their super market. 

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:43 | 4265361 Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill's picture

You do not want to know.

Lets just say human feces does not stay by the side of the road

for long in pig country.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 19:07 | 4265522 AGuy
AGuy's picture

"What the Chinese are raising their hogs on is left to anyone's imagination"

Chinese Farm Samon are feed Pig Poop.


Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:37 | 4265336 Tim_
Tim_'s picture

Fake Farms Owned by the Rich Provide Massive Tax Shelter

"All across the country, a huge number of America’s wealthiest are tapping into agricultural tax breaks—and none of them have to do any real farming to qualify."

"Take Michael Dell [jew], founder of Dell Computers and the second-richest Texan, who qualified for an agricultural property tax break on his sprawling 1,757-acre residential ranch in suburban Austin and saved over $1 million simply because his family and friends sometimes use the land as a private hunting preserve to shoot deer."

"The exemption is such a money-saver that it’s hard to find rich Texans who aren’t moonlighting as farmers on their estates, and that includes President George W. Bush. Bush has used the farm-tax dodge scheme on at least two properties in the last two decades."

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:19 | 4265089 kaiserhoff
kaiserhoff's picture

Hunger has a way of adjusting attitudes, if they last long enough.

But on the whole, I agree.  It takes skills, attitudes, a feel not just for farming or ranching, but what is sane and productive in your neck of the woods.  Not easily learned with Tweets.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:22 | 4265102 Newsboy
Newsboy's picture

Food security is good, and a solar powered well, too.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:31 | 4265130 kaiserhoff
kaiserhoff's picture

Wind has more torque and lifting power, but it's high maintenance.

Either way, be sure you have a few old fashioned clapper hand pumps.


Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:46 | 4265189 l.kimbot
l.kimbot's picture

Swung for their hand pump.  Slick unit

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:48 | 4265211 El Vaquero
El Vaquero's picture

I was just looking at that.  I didn't see a price, but it does look pretty slick, and I could probably rig one into my existing well. 

Sat, 12/21/2013 - 00:23 | 4266107 ImReady
ImReady's picture

$1600 seems pretty reasonable and looks pretty easy to install. Makes me want a well drilled, but I doubt the city would let me.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:47 | 4265191 El Vaquero
El Vaquero's picture

Heh, I can hit the water table with a shovel at my location.  My irrigation well went out a couple of years ago, so I drove the new one myself, but wells are a lot easier to deal with when you can use an above ground pump.  I've been wanting to get one of those hand pumps, an 1 1/4" drive point and put one of those in too.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 19:20 | 4265549 beaker
beaker's picture

Geez.. the bulshit comments to this article are unreal. Maybe this will help clear things up:

  • Farmland prices have indeed appreciated and could fall back if interest rates rise and crop prices stay under pressure. Cap rates today range between 3%-6%.
  • These are generally farmland investments that begin at $1MM and upward. Below that, they do not make a ton of sense, unfortunately.
  • Stocks and bond prices fluctuate, too, if you've been watching over the past few decades. Before you slam farmland, talk about volatility and risk adjusted returns on other asset classes. There's no free lunch.
  • Commercial real estate is great until your vacancy rates kill you or if you have appartment property and a depression hits and you cant get your unemployed tenants out.
  • There is virtually no vacancy rates in farmland!  Another farmer will gladly rent it at market rates.
  • Gold does not cash flow and gold can be confiscated via, say, a 50% tax upon sale. The fucking gov't will get you - or at least try to if they put their mind to it.
  • Farmland is a real asset that cash flows.  And it's returns have given the S&P 500 a hell of a run since 1970.
  • It is a decent inflation hedge - unlike bonds that give you an income stream then pay your principal back in deflated dollars.
  • Farmers don't live on subsidies.  THere are indeed farm subsidy programs that send farmers checks, but in relation to their production income, they are nominal. They do not need them and they are going away in the new farm bill.
  • Aquifers in most states are becoming depleted. Irrigated farmland is in peril.
  • THere are more hedge funds still buying land than there are thinking of selling.
  • GMO crops are NOT some evil boogeyman. Learn the science behind it before spouting off bullshit like "it is killing bees".
  • Farmland - compared to the universe of alternative paper-derivative-based crap out there - is not the perfect investment, but it is one of the best ways to both store your wealth and pay you an income.
Fri, 12/20/2013 - 19:22 | 4265550 beaker
beaker's picture

Geez.. the bulshit comments to this article are unreal. Maybe this will help clear things up:

  • Farmland prices have indeed appreciated and could fall back if interest rates rise and crop prices stay under pressure. Cap rates today range between 3%-6%.
  • These are generally farmland investments that begin at $1MM and upward. Below that, they do not make a ton of sense, unfortunately.
  • Stocks and bond prices fluctuate, too, if you've been watching over the past few decades. Before you slam farmland, talk about volatility and risk adjusted returns on other asset classes. There's no free lunch.
  • Commercial real estate is great until your vacancy rates kill you or if you have appartment property and a depression hits and you cant get your unemployed tenants out.
  • There is virtually no vacancy rates in farmland!  Another farmer will gladly rent it at market rates.
  • Gold does not cash flow and gold can be confiscated via, say, a 50% tax upon sale. The fucking gov't will get you - or at least try to if they put their mind to it.
  • Farmland is a real asset that cash flows.  And it's returns have given the S&P 500 a hell of a run since 1970.
  • It is a decent inflation hedge - unlike bonds that give you an income stream then pay your principal back in deflated dollars.
  • Farmers don't live on subsidies.  THere are indeed farm subsidy programs that send farmers checks, but in relation to their production income, they are nominal. They do not need them and they are going away in the new farm bill.
  • Aquifers in most states are becoming depleted. Irrigated farmland is in peril.
  • THere are more hedge funds still buying land than there are thinking of selling.
  • GMO crops are NOT some evil boogeyman. Learn the science behind it before spouting off bullshit like "it is killing bees".
  • Farmland - compared to the universe of alternative paper-derivative-based crap out there - is not the perfect investment, but it is one of the best ways to both store your wealth and pay you an income.
Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:12 | 4265066 Pladizow
Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:16 | 4265070 FieldingMellish
FieldingMellish's picture

Unless, of course, the govt decides that farmland is a national resource that must be managed for the good of all citizens, like the Soviet Union did, and duely confiscates your land... for the good of the people, of course.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:30 | 4265139 Kayman
Kayman's picture

"Unless, of course, the govt decides that farmland is a national resource that must be managed for the good of all citizens, like the Soviet Union did"

Uhhhh.... have you ever look at U.S. farm subsidies????

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:38 | 4265162 FieldingMellish
FieldingMellish's picture

and yet small farmers continue to go under making the collective all that much bigger.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:40 | 4265166 JailBank
JailBank's picture

Can't compete with teh corporate farmers.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:39 | 4265177 FieldingMellish
FieldingMellish's picture

Especially those sucking on the public subsidy teat. Oligarchs never had it so good.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:52 | 4265200 hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture



Especially those sucking on the public subsidy teat. Oligarchs never had it so good.

Of course, it is the consumer that is subsidized, not the producer.

Most farm subsidies are actually just transfer payments of money taken via taxes from the wealthy minority to pay a portion of the cost of food for the many food consumers that do not pay taxes; nearly 50% of the US, if I remember correctly.

Price paid to farmer = government subsidy + artificially low "market price"

The whole "paying farmers not to produce" is just a distraction, and represents very little of the actual payments.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:08 | 4265266 MeBizarro
MeBizarro's picture

That's part of it but kind of a narrow perspective but it is what Butz intended to do generally when he fundmenntally changed agricultural policy in the 70s.  Earl Butz was one of the most influential Americans in the 20th century who profoudly changed American agriculture and what they eat yet most people have no idea who he was or what he did. 

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:41 | 4265354 ParkAveFlasher
ParkAveFlasher's picture

Thank you for this very clear comment.  God is in the details.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:06 | 4265261 MeBizarro
MeBizarro's picture

That isn't necessarily true but you:

1. Need to know what hell you are doing from the get go.  No learning curve.

2. Find a niche that local consumers are willing to pay for and park youself in it. 

3. Be a hell of a lot more than a farmer including figuring out logistics and marketing.  Frankly that is even more important than the farming part. 

You can make it but a lot of depends on where you are located, the value of land around, and the ease of getting stuff to market & the overall wealth of people around you.  Need you a group of wealthy and/or more-educated people who will typically place a premium on paying a higher price for higher quaity food items. 

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 19:31 | 4265569 Zadok
Zadok's picture

It's not portable...

Sat, 12/21/2013 - 01:13 | 4266156 beaker
beaker's picture

History has shown that creating food shortages in a country isn't a great way to stay in power. They will screw up a lot of things, but screwing up the food supply won't get them where they want to go.

Sat, 12/21/2013 - 15:09 | 4266895 Mesquite
Mesquite's picture

Agenda 21...

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:20 | 4265072 kaiserhoff
kaiserhoff's picture

Uh, no.

I like Simon and we own plenty of land, but the economics suck right now.  Good Midwest land at $15,000 an acre is overpriced, thanks to ZIRP, ethanol, and a lack of sane alternatives.

40-100 acres that will be your home, summer place, and/or bug out destination makes a world of sense.  Large scale investment is on the ass end of the curve. 

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:22 | 4265101 El Vaquero
El Vaquero's picture

I thought that I had been reading that farmland was overpriced right now.  Prices for such land should be a function of how much each acre produces, not "IT'S VALUABLE, BUY BUY BUY!" 


Another issue is that the farmers in this country are aging and will either be retiring or dying off at some point. 

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:34 | 4265149 walküre
walküre's picture

The kids aren't taking over in many cases and the farms shut down, waiting for a buyer. Farming in the 3rd or 4th generation is possible, buying an expensive farm now and starting in the 1st generation is not making sense. Hedge funds have driven prices into the stratosphere and they're not even farming in many cases. Just holding the land to park the excess capital of the super rich.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:02 | 4265250 MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

For good farms you're probably looking at 3-7% landlord return...  In other words, farms make sense at present prices when compared to the "risk free" rate of return, or ZIRP hammered alternatives.  My question is, how quickly are you going to be able to sell when interest rates rise?  Many of the hedge funds get sold shit farms because they're just trying to dump money...  same with the houses they buy ;-)....  makes good farms worth all the more, relatively...  If you can get a great farm for market price, then you've got some cushion, similarly to picking up coins with numismatic value for spot...  but, we're seeing some softness in the market starting and prices decreasing slightly as of Q3...  and we've been a hotbed of wallstreet and chinese buying lately.  If interest rates rise, then there are going to be a lot of unhappy landlords...

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:12 | 4265281 MeBizarro
MeBizarro's picture

I just bought 20+ acres in PA near Kutztown.  Still farming country but development from the ABE area is creeping down more and more espeically if they ever make 222 in PA a 4-lane highway.  

There are several factors but I fgure a 4-8% ROE depending on historical corn commodity prices and yields from the local acreage.  It isn't the stock market but the land is good, has high-quality water sources locally, gets plenty of rain, and has had very steady production the past 40 years.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 20:36 | 4265706 tip e. canoe
tip e. canoe's picture

i know that area...beautiful land there.    fertile as hell.

why corn though?   everyone's growing corn.

get creative man.   check out some of the speciality food places in B&E.   they're craving for local ingredients and can't find them anywhere.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:18 | 4265079 Dagny Taggart
Dagny Taggart's picture

I think the first step is to start growing something (besides the Fed's balance sheet), no matter where you are.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:21 | 4265091 hunglow
hunglow's picture

Is that legal in all 53 states.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:24 | 4265106 kaiserhoff
kaiserhoff's picture

57 according to TOTUS, or is that the kinds of Heinz' soup.

I'm soooo confused.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:21 | 4265100 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Starting small, yes, very smart.  See if you are suitable for growing some your food and the work it entails.  My Dad grew tomatoes (and other stuff from time to time) in his garden when we were young.  Mmm...

Condo dwelling Mr & Mrs Bearing cannot do that, condo association rulez and all that...

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:23 | 4265109 greatbeard
greatbeard's picture

>> no matter where you are.

Thanks for the timely link.  I'm thinking of flipping out of my 5 acre hobby farm and downsizing to something in the 1/2 acre range. I would think with some intense farm techniques one could raise a boat load of food on 1/2 acre.  That link would tend to verify that suspicion.  I barely use 5,000 square feet of what i have now and I'm overflowing with vegetables. 

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:38 | 4265148 Dagny Taggart
Dagny Taggart's picture

Yes, I think most people would be shocked to find how much 1/2 acre can produce.

I really liked this book. I found all kinds of resourceful ideas here.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:48 | 4265196 tip e. canoe
tip e. canoe's picture

i learnt from a cat who's got 15 acres 1 1/2 hour out of a major metro area.   he concentrated his vegetable growing on 1/3-1/2 acre and spent 2 seasons really dialing in the soil using rock dust & sea salt.    i would say he made a good 6 figures this last season selling to health food stores & speciality food shops.    working about 10-15 hours a week on the veggie plot, mostly harvesting + distribution.    key to his success was concentrating on growing nutrient-dense food, so dense the difference in taste, texture, smell & color is obviously apparent to anyone.   if there's any questions, he pulls out the brixometer.

the rest of the land he lets his cows & chickens roam free, producing some damn fine eggs & milk.

you should consider the investment you've already made on that 5k s.f. and think about how you can harness nature to allow it to work for you on the remainder.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:11 | 4265277 greatbeard
greatbeard's picture

>> you should consider the investment you've already made on that 5k s.f.

Oh, I do, and I appreciate what it is.  OTOH, I'm also a chronic renovator.  I buy disaster properties and put them back in good stead.  I grow, can and cook as a hobby.  I can't stay busy enough with the growing so I keep busy renovating and relax with the garden.  Plus, considering I retired 10 years earlier than expected, flipping a place every couple of years helps the finances.  Another big bonus, I can move to totally different areas and get to know them intimately in the couple of years time.  It's pretty cool to go to a completely different area and get established. You've got to enjoy this sleigh ride to it's fullest as long as you can hang onto the sled.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:16 | 4265292 MeBizarro
MeBizarro's picture

Really appreciate people who do what you do but man there is so much soil in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic in particular that is contaminated with horrendous shit that it just isn't possible for an individual to come in and deal with. 

Companies that left that shit in the ground or are responsible for the point-source contamination are long gone and man it is a mess to get this stuff cleaned up literally both physically, legally, and financially. 

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:12 | 4265279 OldE_Ant
OldE_Ant's picture

Just upped 2.2 acres to 8 with an adjoining addition.   Amazing what one can grow in 1/4-1/2 acre.

We have mini horses so the need graze and of course we use the manure.  In their graze zone are the fruit trees, outside virtually everything else.  Rabbits, probly going to add chickens soon and looking at mini-cows as well.

Done right we literally give away more than 2/3 of the haul on any given year, in almost every crop except a few.

Sorry most of us growing for life (health and taste) have no real inclination  to compete with the tasteless crap grown by agribusiness, nor do we need the machinery and debt.

rock and volcanic dust with manure and just a bit of lime work fabulously here.

Water storage to the tune of about 2-3k gallons upped production on certian items by over 300% saving further space.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:21 | 4265301 greatbeard
greatbeard's picture

>> most of us growing for life

After my experience of the last few years I honestly can't imagine buying my fruits and vegetable canned from the market anymore.  I may buy from the farmers market to get the volume I need for my canning runs, but corporate canned just doesn't cut it anymore. 

I remember my sister stopped in for a visit and I had her try one of my jars of canned pears.  Those things went down her gullet like leaves in a shredder.  She said she'd never tasted canned fruit like that.  Ditto my preserves.  You simply can't buy them anywhere near as fine as you can make them, with a little practice.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 18:43 | 4265487 El Vaquero
El Vaquero's picture



We had an early warm spell followed up with a late frost which hit every single fruit tree that I have, which is two peach trees, to plum trees, four pear trees and two apple trees.  I think I got three pears this year, and that's it.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 18:55 | 4265505 jimmytorpedo
jimmytorpedo's picture

I thought ZH was a financial website.

Turns out we're all farmers.


Fri, 12/20/2013 - 20:58 | 4265753 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

most humans were except for the last 100 years when oil took the place of labor...and fertilizer...and just about everything else.  We will be returning shortly


Fri, 12/20/2013 - 20:27 | 4265690 tip e. canoe
tip e. canoe's picture

what are you using for water storage?

did you dig a pond?

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:19 | 4265081 KCCO
KCCO's picture

Does the farmville app on IOS count?

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:19 | 4265082 FeralSerf
FeralSerf's picture

After the 1861 Revolution much of the farmland in the South was confiscated. Confiscatory taxation was a popular method of confiscation to give the appearance of lawfulness.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:10 | 4265265 deepsouthdoug
deepsouthdoug's picture

What 1861 revolution?

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:54 | 4265385 Buckaroo Banzai
Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Some call it the War of Northern Aggression.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 18:05 | 4265403 deepsouthdoug
deepsouthdoug's picture

Oh, the war to preserve the Union fought against the secessionist traitors. Got ya.  

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:23 | 4265098 Conax
Conax's picture

Owning some decent land, and running a productive farm are two different things.

I hear this a lot, "I'll buy some farmland and raise ________."

Generational farmers even fail once they start borrowing money for buildings and equipment.  This is how the banks end up with the land.  A new farmer has to have all the knowledge, a steely work  ethic, some cheap help, and enough cash to avoid the banker's snare.   

Too much rain, a big tax hit, fracking, the EPA, a drought.. This stuff can ruin even skillful farmers.  Then you have to undercut the prices from the factory farms...

Gold and silver, bitchezz.

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:26 | 4265118 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

I have no direct experience with farming.  But, what I apparently do "know" is that having a small farm (selling most of your production) does indeed look like a losing game.  Garden?  Yes.  Small farm up against the large ones using Monsanto seeds and chemicals?  Ahh..., no gracias!

And just like you mention, so many variables can whack a small farmer running on tiny margins even when things go well.

Yes to precious metals, which in a sense represent or store a whole lot of work...

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:11 | 4265276 MachoMan
MachoMan's picture

Small scale farming can provide incredible return...  you can more easily adapt to market conditions and grow specialty crops that offer the highest return...  let's face it, the large scale guys are going to grow huge amounts of the same crop to create economies of scale and efficiencies in harvest, chemicals, etc...  and crop rotation will dictate what they can plant.  With small scale, you're free to do whatever you like, including organic growing.  If you're awesome, then you might even grow some protein alongside the crops...  and you can do it year round.

The guatemalan fruit won't be able to be sold cheaper than your food either...  so let the box stores try to compete...

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 17:03 | 4265229 Yenbot
Yenbot's picture

You are exactly right, Conax. I too grew up on farm.

"Farm" literally means "tennant" by definition in debt to a feudal landlord (the Ag Co-Op Bank that loans you the money for land, seed, fertilizer, taxes, fuel, chemicals, labor and equipment- and then buys your crop for wholesale).

"Peasants" on the other hand, have title to their land. While they can hold it.

In the US, most farming is by agribusiness corporations now. Zoning regulations enter into this.

I am old enough I was trained to invest by "Industry Categories". I have abandonded that after losing money on Ag sector investments.

I still grow my own vegetables in a small garden.

"Organic" can give small farmers an edge. But it is frightfully difficult with regulations, and getting to market.

I agree with you: you can't beat real metals long-term. DCA, don't BTFATH...

In Japan, farmers have more votes than city people at election time. And small farmers are a "national institution", unlike the States.

Farming is the hardest work in the world. If the shit hits the fan, the Apple generation won't be able to hack it.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!