Wednesday, August 5, 2015

WSJ: Farmland Investments Take Root

Me-Fools and their money will soon part:
Farmland is attracting growing interest from pension plans, hedge funds and even mom-and-pop investors as they seek to diversify assets and capitalize on an agriculture-industry slump that has pushed down land prices in some regions.
Financial-services giant TIAA-CREF announced Tuesday that it has raised $3 billion for its second global farmland-investment partnership, exceeding its initial target of $2.5 billion. The fund, which will invest in North and South America and Australia, has lined up commitments from institutional investors, including the New Mexico State Investment Council and the U.K.’s Greater Manchester Pension Fund.
TIAA-CREF’s fund marks one of the biggest in a recent wave of cropland investments by institutional investors. Meanwhile, several U.S. public-stock offerings by farmland owners who have packaged their property as real-estate investment trusts, or REITs, are enabling retail investors to place bets on the sector as well.
Investors are betting farmland will yield good long-term returns as global food demand rises with growing populations and wealth in Asia, Africa and elsewhere. The amount of arable land is expected to increase only modestly, at best, due to urbanization and a lack of acreage suitable for crops.
Seriously, with other commodities swirling around the proverbial market drain, why would people expect farmland to hold value?  The explanations in this article sound more like marketing pitches.  I would wager a thousand bucks that the farmland market will be worse off in three years than it is right now.  The Wall Street Journal story can argue that things will improve, but I don't believe it.  My recommendation: don't buy farmland for five to seven years.

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