Investors are Still Farmland Fans

By Elizabeth Williams DTN Special Correspondent

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (DTN) -- Wall Street's romance with farmland hasn't waned despite commodity price setbacks. In fact, professional investors attending the recent Iowa Land Expo see the steep drop in crop prices since 2013 as a buying opportunity for farm real estate.

Three publicly traded agricultural real estate investment trusts (REITs) now join other institutional investors combing the country for farmland deals. Although total investor ownership of farmland is just a small slice of farm sales, interest is increasing as farmland values slide lower.

"We're finding good return deals in this market. You just have to be selective," said Paul Pittman, CEO of Farmland Partners, Inc., the Denver-based ag REIT that made headlines in 2015 with the record...

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Estate Planning: Ties That Bind

Lance Woodbury, DTN Farm Business Adviser Estate planning, on the surface, has two primary goals -- transferring wealth and minimizing taxes. Both are important to agricultural families, as the high cost of land and equipment can be a barrier to entering a farming or ranching business. Additionally, a large estate tax liability can erode the equity built over generations, if assets must be sold to pay tax.

At a deeper level, however, estate planning serves another meaningful purpose. It can enhance the ties that bind heirs together. In my conversations with business owners, I often hear them express a desire to create something beyond financial significance with their planning efforts. They recognize that passing assets such as land, equipment and cash to the next generation...

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USDA Can’t Help Cotton

By Jerry Hagstrom DTN Political Correspondent

WASHINGTON (DTN) -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said early Wednesday that USDA lawyers have determined the department does not have the authority to declare cottonseed an oilseed, as the cotton industry has asked.

The declaration would make cottonseed eligible for farm subsidies, but after a speech to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Wednesday morning, Vilsack said Congress did not grant the authority in the 2014 farm bill and through appropriations has forbidden it to use the Commodity Credit Corporation to provide the assistance to farmers or cotton gins.

The announcement would be a blow to the cotton industry that has been anticipating a decision from USDA. It would effectively mean Vilsack is kicking the issue back...

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