Some of the links on this site are affiliate links. Read our full disclaimer here.
In the world of investments, where uncertainties and market fluctuations are the norm, farmland has emerged as a stable asset class, providing a haven for investors seeking diversification and a hedge against inflation.
Traditionally a complex arena for new investors, farmland has become more accessible, thanks to innovations like farmland crowdfunding and the emergence of low-cost investment options such as Farmland Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).
In this article, we explore the advantages of farmland REITs and highlight two of the best options in the market.
Understanding Farmland REITs
A Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) is a company designed to hold real estate, and in the case of farmland REITs, the focus is on agricultural land.
Investors in farmland REITs pool their capital, which is then used to acquire various parcels of farmland. Farmers can then lease the land from the REIT, generating periodic dividends for investors.
This structure allows investors to benefit from the stability of farmland returns without the responsibilities of owning and managing a farm.
Start Investing Today
|Commercial Real Estate Properties
|US Farmland, Timberland, Vineyards
Farmland Investing 101
Farmland has provided investors with consistent returns for decades, but gaining exposure to this alternative asset has been a challenge in the past.
Today, you can invest passively in farmland through crowdfunded real estate platforms like AcreTrader.
Instead of buying a farm yourself, investors pool their money together. And instead of managing the farmland yourself, AcreTrader takes care of that. They handle everything from the paperwork to finding a suitable farmland renter.
To date, the team over at AcreTrader has funded 149 properties, totaling over $365 Million in equity raised. This has been invested into over 50,000 acres of farmland.
Looking to learn more? Here's our full review of AcreTrader.
This is a sponsored promotion for the AcreTrader platform. Farmland Riches, LLC and it's members may have investments in companies represented on the AcreTrader platform. This informational post is by no means a promotion, solicitation, or recommendation of any specific investment.
Debt vs Equity REITs
Farmland REITs can be categorized into equity REITs and debt REITs.
Equity REITs involve the purchase of farmland for leasing to farmers, while debt REITs provide loans to farmers for expanding operations or acquiring more land.
Equity REITs tend to be more volatile but offer higher potential returns.
Taxation of Farmland REITs
Farmland REITs enjoy special tax treatment, provided they adhere to specific guidelines regarding income distribution to investors.
Instead of being subject to corporate tax, these trusts can pass income to investors pre-tax.
However, investors receiving dividends are taxed as ordinary income, differing from stock dividends, which may be treated as capital gains.
Best Farmland REITs
While the options for farmland REITs are somewhat limited, two prominent players stand out in the market.
1. Gladstone Land Corporation (LAND)
Founded in 1997, Gladstone Land Corporation was the first farmland REIT to enter the scene.
Gladstone owns 131 farms across the U.S., totaling nearly 113,000 acres in 14 different states.
The company follows an equity REIT model, generating income by purchasing farmland and renting it out to farmers.
Gladstone Land pays monthly dividends to investors, providing a consistent income stream.
2. Farmland Partners (FPI)
Farmland Partners is a larger player in the farmland REIT space.
Established in 2014, the company owns over 160,000 acres of land across 17 states.
FPI focuses on both commodity crops and specialty crops, providing investors with exposure to diverse agricultural sectors.
The REIT aims to work with farmers to enhance their farms' profitability, ultimately benefiting both farmers and shareholders.
Farmland Partners pays dividends quarterly, adding a regular income stream for investors.
Advantages of Investing in Farmland REITs
Investing in farmland REITs offers several advantages:
- Portfolio Diversification: Farmland provides uncorrelated returns compared to traditional asset classes, reducing overall portfolio volatility.
- Inflation Hedge: Farmland has historically served as an effective hedge against inflation, offering stability during economic uncertainties.
- Attractive Total Returns: Farmland REITs provide investors with both rental income and capital appreciation, delivering a combined average annual return of 11% from 1992 to 2021.
Risks of Investing in Farmland REITs
Despite the advantages, investing in farmland REITs comes with risks:
- Interest Rate Risk: Farmland REITs, like other REITs, are exposed to interest rate risk, impacting their borrowing costs and ability to make acquisitions.
- Natural Disasters and Crop Prices: Farms are vulnerable to natural disasters, affecting harvests and rent payments. Crop prices, especially for commodity crops, can be volatile, impacting farm income.
- Farmer-Tenants: Challenges in the farming business, such as natural disasters, equipment costs, and debt, may lead to financial difficulties for farmer-tenants, affecting rental payments.
Farmland REITs offer a unique avenue for investors to access the stability and potential returns of farmland without the complexities of direct ownership.
Gladstone Land Corporation and Farmland Partners stand out as promising options in this niche market.
As with any investment, thorough research and consideration of risks are crucial.