This is the primary land use that we impact. Currently our sponsored farms fall into two categories; organic and organic transitional. The lease with the farm tenant requires the maintenance or transition to organic status. This tenancy is typically for a minimum 5 years and is renewable and non-cancellable.
Usually the farm tenant approaches us with the opportunity to invest. Buying the farmland may not be an option so we become the next best solution. We work with the farmer to arrange for the purchase terms that best suit their business plans. Generally, we provide the organizational framework and capital. The farm size is usually in the 100 to 500 acre range. Initial acquisitions were in Illinois but we now are expanding to other Midwestern states. Currently most of our mid-size farmers focus on the major grain crops and may incorporate livestock as well. We continue to diversify our farm assets and foresee new growth in specialty grains, dairy/pasture applications and local and sustainable food production.
We support new organic farmers through an intensive consulting arrangement for the first few years. The cost of the training is borne by both the investor and the farmer. Additionally, we have opportunities for small farmers to lease land for their own operations. Often there is an old homestead with pasture and outbuildings that can be utilized by small produce or livestock farmers.
Recently one of our sponsored organic farms was mentioned on the front page of the Chicago Tribune: Organic farms: Buying into organic farms. We were also in the LA Times discussing opportunities in sustainable agriculture: Investors seeing farmland as safer bet than stocks.
“It is now 14 years since I first suggested that organic farming might have some benefits and ought to be taken seriously. I shall never forget the vehemence of the reaction.. much of it coming from the sort of people who regard agriculture as an industrial process, with production as the sole yardstick of success.”
———– Prince Charles