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All investors should be welcome

The head of a farmland real estate company sees outside investors as a way to connect urban consumers to agriculture.

Farmland Partners CEO Paul Pittman tells Brownfield his company operates as a real estate investment trust, or REIT, on the New York Stock Exchange.

“We bring urban investors who may not understand farming but can buy our stock on the stock exchange, and take that capital and reinvest it in farmland,” he explains.

Farmland Partners Inc. owns and/or manages nearly 195,000 acres in 19 states, including, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Nebraska. 

“Not only does the farm economy get an advantage from the capital coming back, but almost more importantly, it gets a group of people who know very little about where their food comes from to invest in the industry—it changes their attitude,” he says.

He says American agriculture should be open to all kinds of investment.

“Who wants to have a policy that says, oh please don’t invest in my industry? —No, the opposite is true, you want to bring in as much capital as you can, particularly equity capital because it’s a good long-term investment and it helps the industry grow,” he says.

A recent USDA report finds foreign investors held interest in about three percent, 40 million acres of U.S. agricultural land.  Canadians own nearly 13 million acres, and investors from the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom round out the top five foreign countries.

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