Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Beware of farms as investment property

An article in the StarTribune, "Hot money turns from stocks to farmland", has me deeply concerned.  I've witnessed the impact of an absentee landlord and it wan't pretty.  As many who live in blighted neighborhoods can attest, property maintenance can often become deferred when the owners don't live either in the home or nearby. Caring for property is best done by someone on site, not someone far off who is simply trying to "milk the cow for all it is worth".

We once had a diligent hard working next door neighbor who then move 30 miles away.  It was instantaneous the changes we saw in the property next door. Despite having tenants, no longer was the grass mowed when need, nor was snow shoveled on the driveway. Even the wood began rotting around the window frames.  In only a few years the house was condemned.  By that time we had enough and chose to move out of the neighborhood, which we had come to know and love.

A farm requires far greater maintenance than a home. Not only are their buildings and tractors to maintain, but also there is the land that needs tending.  Who better to care for the land than those living on the land who are deeply invested and will directly be impacted if the ground water is contaminated, the property overtake by invasive species or the valuable topsoil eroded and carried off downstream.

We've seen what damage wealthy Wall Street investors have done to the stock market.  I hope that these same investors will not be allowed to take that reckless investment behavior to our heartland.  It was encouraging to read that since 1939 Minnesota has had laws to restrict corporate ownership of farm land.  I hope that our state and national laws will continue to safeguard our nation's family farms.

StarTribune article "High cropland prices sow fortune and worry" discusses further the impact of investors on farming.

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