I was calling my very good friend yesterday to wish him a happy birthday. He used to run the Farm Service Agency or when I was farming the ASCS or the Agricultural Stabilization Conservation Service. The office is probably the biggest bank in the country but would never admit it. They are responsible for all the farm programs, crop insurance, reporting, etc. etc. They are a gigantic government program service that basically keeps a lot of farmers in business. Yes, I was a major participant. Anyway, we were talking and when I was farming in the 1980's they were very very difficult years even for farmers who were a lot better farmers and ranchers than me. We were dealing with 15% +/- interest, low commodity prices with no market, depressed land prices, just a total bad time to be a farmer. Well, I had to sell a farm to raise cash to stay in business and I have always felt bad since and I asked him when I was trying to figure out which farm to sell and he told me and said if you wait long enough you will probably be able to buy it for half what you sold it for. In our conversation yesterday I asked him again about this and he not only agreed with what he said but mentioned that maybe I could buy it back one of these days for a quarter of what I sold it for. These major farmers today have got a ton of debt, crop and livestock inputs are sky high and the interest is going to start to rise, the technology and science is there to increase yields and we are like the 80's scaring our foreign markets. Just a thought and maybe I should start to get serious about saving money for the next land buying opportunity.
Land is the only thing in the world that amounts to anything...for 'tis the only thing in this world that lasts, and don't you be forgetting it! 'Tis the only thing worth working for, worth fighting for-worth dying for." Gerald O'Hara to his daughter Scarlett, in Gone With the Wind.
In 1978 I was one of the very first in N. MO to implement the use of No Till Farming. Today it is the most common way to farm. Basically it is to plant your seed with little or no damage or disruption to the soil such as plowing or disking. As I was talking to an older farmer the other day he explained that I was probably 5 years to early as the large implement companies and chemical companies had not developed to full use their necessary inputs for no till to work. The following article which I found in one of my grandmothers books is so necessary reading in today's over used world. As one of my friends said to me the problem with today's world is no one knows what is enough. There is only so much of mother earth. The following are from pages of a book that I am currently reading written by Dr. Aldo Leopold called "A Sand County Almanac" A truly great book on conservation. I will in future blogs expand on other parts of the book. When there are rainy or blustery days it is fun to go thru my grandmothers old books. She was also quite a woman who inherited her farm from her father when she was orphaned at 14 years of age. To say she loved her farm is the understatement of all understatements. She was also quite the conservationist in her own right and her notes and books during the war and the war effort pertaining to farming is just very good reading. I hope to share all this with you in the upcoming blogs. Basically everyone says write a blog and you sit and think of what and when you start you cant stop. But I am going to make it a ritual for who ever reads and for me to remember so many good times. Thank you and we will get on with the purpose of this essay.
Every great and lasting civilization in recorded history has been built on this layer of topsoil; often in the valleys of great rivers and in climates slightly warmer than temperate. Each of the civilizations has lasted as longs as its soil fertility was maintained and has fallen when this fertility was depleted. Other minor causes may enter into such depletion, yet the primary cause has always been soil erosion, whether by wind or water.
When erosion has exhausted the topsoil layer or washed it away , theirs is no amount of modern fertilizer which will maintain its productivity or life carrying capacity. Only through geological time, through the slow weathering of its basic mineral elements and the long, slow evolution or invasion of new plant and animal species which live and die on the land, can its life-supporting fertility be restored.
Thus we will do well to think of our land in more than economic terms-and to consider what course of action toward it is esthetically and ethically right. Only thus can we preserve its stability and integrity - which is to say, its capacity for the sustained support of such higher life forms as mankind.
On my recent travels I was so impressed with the service that I received from a variety of people. The trip to the south got me thinking about what makes a quality business.... of course service but what kind of service? Service with a personal touch, caring, attentive, light hearted and most of all fun. In my business of real estate it is a tremendous investment. It should be done in a caring, attentive and yet fun environment. Yet I was also impressed with the knowledge of the staff for which I had contact with. They knew their product and they were enthusiastic about what they were selling.... they knew all about what they were selling and explained with great detail.
Real estate companies and agents have the same tools....or do they? Do they have the knowledge that is needed to satisfy the buyer, do they have the attention to detail and do they have the enhusiasm for what they are selling to finish the job???? I know one thing Bailey Properties does! Interview others and see for yourself.
I found this article taped into one of my grandmother's favorite books written by Aldo Leopold and titled A Sand Country. My grandmother was quite a bit of a conservationist before it was popular and who owned and kept her family farm thru many obstacles including two world wars, the depression and many other hard to believe events. She was a tough lady which I think most ladies of the time were. They were a totally different tough than the modern woman. They could survive and make do; there was no one else to blame, there was no help available and you took care of yourself and your family. Church was a big part of Grandmas life style which was to survive and be independent. She was very good with a switch and a "scatter" gun. She was orphaned at a very early age and her father gave her this farm in N. MO which she dearly loved. She loved the land and I am sure she was a big influence in my life. So here is the article written by Leonard Hall from 1950 and it is quoted directly from the newspaper article taped to her book.
Land managers, of both tame and wild lands, suffer most from the outworn concept that land is a personal commodity to be exploited at will. And in the end, true conservation is impossible without the development of a "land ethic" now almost non-existent. Man must learn that he is not the conqueror of the land community, but merely a citizen of it. How can he do this, when even his teachers have not yet learned what "land" is? It is the sum total of soil, water, air, sun and all the wild or domestic fauna and flora found within a given land community.
It is energy flowing upward through the land pyramid; with sun as the motive force, soil and water ads the base, and plants and animals as the complex ascending layers. When we have learned what land is, says Leopold, and have developed a cooperative and ethical attitude toward it, Conservation will become possible, but hardly before this.
Sixty Six years after the above was written I read articles on the miracles of bees their lost habitat and the incredible good works that worms are always doing and how economists are predicting that the next wars will be about clean water I am shocked. We really have not come that far. I tell clients to buy dirt and especially land with clean water.
I have been in the farming and ranching business for nearly my entire life and in the farm and land sales business for close to 35 years. Often times when I am called to look/ list a clients property I am almost always shocked by how they have parceled the land up. They have a beautiful piece of land and usually with a unique selling piece that would make the rest of the farm really worth something. For what ever the reason; money, neighbors, a pushy previous real estate agent that wants a fast sale they have carved out often times the piece that brings the most value to the total property sale. Which brings me to the reason for this blog, land can be parceled off and sold, I understand that money talks, so do fast talking neighbors or real estate agents looking for a quick sale but please before you parcel off contact a reputable land broker. In the end you will be so happy that you got the advice you needed to bring the most value to the acreage you have left. Neighbors can be great but times change and people pass on and land changes hands, it upsets me to see properties carved up for a quick sale ... only for the rest of the property to be devalued because it was not parceled off correctly and/or the property is much more difficult to sell because of the way it was parceled off. So before you parcel seek the advice of a land specialist, it can be quick and definitely worth your financial pay off.
I have been asked several times in the last couple of weeks about land auctions and what might make an owner consider to go this route in selling his or her land. It is important to note that I have been responsible for selling thousands of acres of land by the auction method and have a very close working relationship with two of what I consider to be the best auction houses in the state of Missouri.
Land auctions main attraction is that it is a fast way to liquidate you holdings and sometimes you can maximize your profit. There are internet and live auctions, there are reserves; where the owner sets a base and no reserves where the land sells regardless of price. With land auctions the buyer or bidder comes prepared to own the land; there are no contingincies for inspections or financing. The buyer is expected to have done all is homework.
I am very partial to the live auction method which means that everyone is gathered in one room and sometimes there is bidding from the phone and the auctioneer chants the prices. Most large parcels of land will be divided up into smaller pieces which will ultimately enable more buyers to purchase. Sometimes this will bring a higher price for the whole farm. The live auction will bring a competitive spark to the bidding and a good auctioneer will be able to see and feel the emotions and get an even higher price from the bidders. With the internet auctions I have never felt the need or competition to drive a higher price and there is just to much that goes on behind the scene. I also like the no reserve auctions as this will bring out the real buyers knowing that this land will sell today. They will travel and they will show up to bid and prepared to buy. With a reserve price if you no sale a farm then you are stuck with an auction appraised value of the farm. People dont forget what the last offer was. Also, another problem I have is that with auctions no matter how big the turn out is there are usually just two bidders and there is always the chance that one might be in the restroom and not bidding.
As I previously mentined I have been responsible for large land and machinery auctions for estates, banks, trust companies, attorneys and families all with the need to settle and cash in the land quickly. Many financial institutions do not want land in their portfolio as it is much harder to manage than cash. Whether you decide to list or auction my recommendation is to talk with someone you trust that has had experience with all forms of land sales and let them outline for you both ways. Both auctions and listings have a place. With over 30 years of selling country property I would be happy to work with you in helping you get to your ultimate goal either by auction or listing process.
When I put my first crop in ground it was 1978 and farming was no where it is today. We were some of the first people in N. MO to go total no till farming. It was quite a sight and there was quite a commotion with the neighbors. We did not have Roundup and we mostly sprayed with Paraquat or what many people said was a form of agent orange. Anyway long story short is that there was always an article on the average acre of N.MO farm land lost due to erosion was 3+/- tons of soil per acre with conventional farming. With that said there has been a gigantic rush with all the government agencies to somehow control the soil and ultimately the quality of water. We are so very lucky to live in the state of Missouri as we are blessed with an abundance of water. I cannot begin to tell you how many times we have showed farms and cattle ranches to out of state buyers who come to MO for the water. I have been preaching on and on about the increasing value and importance of clean water and am I very proud of the listings that I have that are highlighted by springs, running creeks, rivers or just good clean abundant ponds. There have been many smart people who have said the last fight on earth will be over water. What ever you think I will say that water is becoming the new commodity that will forever be in the news. Just look out west and you will appreciate what we have here in the Midwest. We are so lucky to have this abundant clean water and land prices that have yet to reflect the shortage. Yes, we need to take care of it and keep it clean and NO we do not need any government agency to tell us how to take care of it on our private land. I think that todays farmers and land owners are well qualified and smart enough to realize that they need to protect all the God given resources that have been given to them and you can see that most farmers do no till farming or at least minimum tillage to protect all their resources.
Yes this is my first attempt to blog and who knows. I have already by accident erased my first copy which I thought was pretty good so who knows if I am cut out to get this done? Anyway I will try again:
I have had an interest in land ownership and farming since I was to little to remember. Farming and cattle has always been in my families blood and my grandmothers farm has been in our family for over 90+ years. I bought my first farm in the early 1980's and was also just married. I paid $500 per acre for 640 acres and got my down payment thru the beginning farmers program at the FHA. The supervisor and I wore down many pencil eraser's trying to figure out on paper how to make payments with 60 cent cattle and $1.40 corn. I don't think we ever did figure it out but in a years time the farm went from $500 per acre to $100 per acre and you couldn't even beg someone to buy it and this was right after the great farming years of the 1970's. Anyway long story is the government came out with a program called CRP, which is a total separate blog and I somehow kept the farm and the question is when they were telling me how smart I was when I bought this farm in the 80's what are they telling the land buyers now? There is no way or barely anyway that the farmers can afford to pay the current rents and land payments at these crop prices. The good years in the cattle business will slowly go away and then what will happen to the land prices? I often hear the line from the famous, Will Rogers that "they aint making it anymore" but every time a farmer dies the land becomes available and with taxes and prices and family and the avg age of todays farmer it is going to become more available and probably cheaper. I am still a big believer in land and would never do without but it is partly because of my love of independence and freedom that it brings and especially in todays world this counts for a lot.