The value and price of farmland has been steadily increasing for the past few years; and the land is not needed for development of housing and buildings, but for agricultural use, according to local farmer and owner of Butterfield Farms, Bryan Butterfield.
This trend is happening all over the country where the farm ground is good, including the counties surrounding Miami University.
Butterfield said the sudden dramatic increase is a product of the economy.
According to Butterfield, when the housing market was going really well five or six years ago, a great deal of land that was sold was used to build houses. Therefore, there is not as much land available anymore for the need of farming. Butterfield estimates that each farmer went from supplying food to an average of 50 people to now over 100 people and a great deal of farmers have been focusing on producing corn for the use of ethanol. The larger the demand is for ethanol and the higher the value of the agriculture, the more expensive the entire process gets.
However, farmers like Butterfield are still bringing in the same profit as before because despite high start-up fees, there is a higher demand and more consumers.
“We farm 1,700 acres and borrowed a half a million dollars just to plant the crops for this year,” Butterfield said.
This is a large investment and Butterfield said it is quite a risk for farmers, especially young, new farmers. However, there are very few of them. Butterfield is in his 50s and says he is one of the youngest in the business.
“Farming is a good life, but it is a hard life. It has to be in your blood to really enjoy it,” Butterfield said.
From the business perspective of trying to sell the farmland, George Luechauer, a realtor from Coldwell Banker in Oxford said the farming business is slow due to the lack of land.
“There are plenty of buyers but no sellers of farmland. We have had some land sell as high as $12,000 an acre,” Luechauer said.
Amy Snell, senior Miami University urban planning major, said the investment in farmland is an investment towards the future of our society.
“The future right now is looking at using farm land as part of alternative energy, farm land is more than just food production,” Snell said. “This means ethanol or wind turbines, both bring in more profit than just produce.”
According to Snell’s research at Miami, the land that was previously purchased for development is now being sold back to farmers because it is much more profitable.
Another need for farming, according to senior dietetics major Caitlin Mazurek is because the demand for farm fresh, locally grown and organic farm foods is increasing. This is due to the increase of people who are aware of where their foods are grown and the problems that can come with imported foods.
According to Butterfield, if more people from the younger generation don’t start investing in land and putting money into agriculture, America could be in trouble. However, with the market shift and the constant development of technology, it is hard to know what to invest in and what will be the next trend of needs.