Monday, March 11, 2013

Land Opportunities

When I wrote about farming arrangements I created that post, because I knew I wanted to make the non-rural folk familiar with how the land we farm is setup. We recently had a change in our arrangement on a particular section of ground we farm.

I am going to admit I am nervous about writing this post.  While wanting to educate others about agriculture, it is hard sometimes to do that without allowing one to enter into our private matters.   So I will do my best here without feeling too exposed!

Let me begin by saying that when a family has farmed rented land, more than likely they love that land as if it were their own.  This land is their "bread and butter" so to speak, and in addition to that they feel a respect for it.  We care for it, we tend to it, replenish it, and feed the world with the results.  That brings much pride to a person.

When the opportunity arises to purchase the land from the existing owners, more often than not,  the farmer always would like the first chance to do so. And hopefully out of respect for their tenant, it is offered to them. Although this isn't always the case.

A couple reasons this seems appropriate to us is explained next.  First, if it isn't bought by the tenant/farmer, that is income out of their pocket at the end of the next crop season, and no matter if it is 160 acres or 20 acres, it will still hurt the bottom line. The availability (at least in our area of the world), rented land isn't in abundance! We can not just drop by the local "land store" and pickup another few acres. Like in our case, most of the acres are farmed by generation after generation.

Then there is the emotional side, which is the fact that you have tended to this ground as  I mentioned before, as if it were your own.  Normally there is an attachment, yes it is a material item, but it is like the dirt is imbedded not only under your fingernails, but in your blood.  You cherish the land. Having the pride to say "I have farmed this ground for 50 years" is pretty awesome to hear coming from an 84 year old farmer.  Next time you hear one start to say something like that, seriously stop and look in their eyes.  I'm pretty sure, you'll be seeing  some eyes lit up and pride abounding.

First let me say, I know in my heart of hearts, purchasing this land was the right decision.  I know it was a new "path" for our family legacy.  But this did not come without me feeling lots of anxiety, panic in my chest, worry in my temples, and feeling torn for not feeling 100% fabulous about it.

The day we received the letter, it stated in it that the owners had also offered it to one other farmer in the area. Let me remind you, land can be done by private sale or at an auction.  So, we were happy it was not at auction, cause at an auction almost anything goes! :)

After all is said and done, I can truly say I have witnessed goodness here in our neck of the woods.  This other farm family stated that they did not want to buy it, out of respect for our family, because we had been farming it for so many years.  It is humbling, refreshing, and most certainly good.  We are thankful.

Now let me put into perspective the dollar figures we are talking about, you might be able to relate to why I felt all those things I previously mentioned. Also you might realize when a crop is hindered by the weather it's such a big deal to a farmer!

In the 90's, long before I came along, my husband purchased some non-irrigated acres, they cost him about $850 per acre.   He recently went to an auction, in our area where irrigated land went for about $7,900 per acre.  Non-irrigated land is usually cheaper than irrigated, and in our area we have seen it go for $2,800 to $4,200 per acre.

Milton & I, as partners in this farming operation, had to sit down several times to discuss this opportunity. We also prayed about it more than once.  We also got advice from our tax accountant and Milton's Dad.  Farming takes faith.  I will be honest, my husband was born with it, and I am a work in progress.

It was a good decision, and we feel fortunate that our landlord's family chose to sell to us.  The future looks bright and spring is right around the corner, farming will be in full swing before we know it once again!  Stay tuned & feel free to ask any questions!  Milton loves to talk about farming!

Thanks for stopping by!
Julie & Milton

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