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Sales of farm and recreational property in the mid-south appear to be recession proof. While the rest of the country underwent a severe real estate decline especially in the housing market starting in 2007, farm sales have remained strong, according to Gwin Smith with Rutledge Investment Company.

Rutledge Investment Company, based in Memphis, serves a five state region that includes Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Louisiana and Tennessee. “We are breaking records. For the fourth year in a row, RIC and its subsidiaries will have a record year in both sales and loans in 2014,” according to Smith.

Here’s a breakdown of the numbers:

  • 2014 – by end of the year we will have closed $140,000,000 in loan and real estate sales transactions ($70.3 million real estate sales and $69.7 million in loans)
  • 2013 – $104,132,733.00 in loan and real estate sales transactions
  • 2012 – $83,189,074 in loan and real estate sales transactions
  • 2011 – $116,961,428 in loan and real estate sales transactions

What is behind the record breaking sales? Smith says strong farm incomes and low interest rates have kept land values strong. He also credits the upturn to increased demand from funds and South American investors. According to Smith, “Land buyers have greatly outnumbered those who are willing to sell, creating a continued demand and keeping prices strong for top quality properties.” People are very focused on hard assets versus paper.


Proper drying and storage add value to corn crop

“It enables us to be able to harvest our crops and dry our crops and store our crops indefinitely,” said Tommy Young, a corn grower based in Tuckerman, Ark., who has been using on-farm storage for more than 30 years.

The ability to speed up the harvest also allows growers to avoid losses caused by weather, according to Jason Kelley, a UA Extension agronomist for wheat and feed grains. Several years ago, with a hurricane threatening, one producer with on-farm storage harvested around the clock and was nearly done by the time neighboring growers got started, Kelley said.

Having a way to store their own grain also allows growers to hold out for higher prices because during the fall harvest, prices often drop as elevators become flush with large quantities of grain, Stiles said. Growers can also defer their tax liability on the grain by holding on to it rather than selling.

On-farm storage also allows growers to sell directly to buyers. In Arkansas, the poultry industry in a large consumer of corn and offers attractive prices and a year-round market for producers, Stiles said.


Rich Shumate, University of Arkansas | Delta Farm Press – Corn growers across Arkansas are increasingly taking matters into their own hands, erecting on-farm storage facilities to help them more efficiently market and harvest their product, rather than relying on commercial grain elevators.

Over the past decade, growers in Arkansas have increased their on-farm storage by about 70 million bushels, or about 52 percent, according to Scott Stiles, an Extension economist with the University Of Arkansas System Division Of Agriculture.

With many growers across the state shifting from cotton to corn production, “that sharp rise is consistent with the 141 percent increase in corn acreage seen over the same time period,” Stiles said.

Kris Baker is one of the growers who moved into on-site storage at his farm in Sherrill in Jefferson County, Ark.

“If you’re going to stay in the business of raising corn, you’re going to need on-farm storage,” he said. “It’s really helped us out in the efficiency of our harvest.”

By storing their grain themselves, growers don’t have to transport their crops as far and can get it out of the field more quickly. They can also dry the corn themselves, which allows them to harvest earlier at higher moisture levels without paying drying charges assessed by commercial grain brokers.