Tuesday, March 11, 2014

If You Want to Make Money, Become a Farmer

International investor Jim Rogers, chairman of Rogers Holdings, has been bullish on the agriculture sector for years, and he sounded the theme again this week.

The world now faces "very low inventories" of foodstuffs for the first time in years, Rogers tells BBC Radio. In addition, farmers are in short supply and aging, with the average age of a U.S. farmer at 58, he notes.

Put it all together, and it's good news for agriculture. "Agriculture’s been a terrible business for 30 years. It is now beginning to get better. If you want to make a lot of money in the future, which many people do, you should learn to drive a tractor," Rogers suggests.
"Agriculture is going to be one of the most exciting businesses in the next 10 years."

A recent government study supports Rogers’ optimism on farms.

U.S. farms, on average, are bigger and more prosperous but are dwindling in number. And although the number of young farmers has risen, U.S. farmers, on average, are getting even older, a government census of American agriculture has found.

The figures were part of the USDA's "Census of Agriculture," which surveys all U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them every five years. The results help shape the nation's agricultural policy.

"The preliminary data provide a snapshot of a strong rural America that has remained stable during difficult economic times,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.

“The data confirm that farm income is at a record high. However, the prolonged drought and lack of disaster assistance have made it more difficult for livestock producers and mid-sized farms to survive.”

A bright spot in the data is the slight increase in young farmers and the stable number of small farms and large-scale farms, he said.

"As folks age out of farming, it leaves fewer and fewer people potentially in these rural communities. We have to rebuild the middle," Vilsack said.

The average age of farmers rose to 58.3 years from 57.1.

"We have an aging farm population and they are carrying a debt load that is small, historically. But we have also reached that point where this aging population is starting to push over to the younger farmer and it looks like his debt load is going to be sizable," Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities in West Des Moines, Iowa, told Reuters.

- Source, Money News: