As big money from developers and equity firms flow into farmland, it is the farmers paying the price, getting priced out of the market against big money interests.
"I just couldn't compete with how much people are paying, with people paying 10 grand" per acre, Brookings County, S.D., farmer Joel Gindo told The New York Times. "And for someone like me who doesn't have an inheritance somewhere sitting around, a lump sum of money sitting around, everything has to be financed."
That comes with the added tax of inflation and high interest rates under President Joe Biden.
South Dakota farmland has risen 18.7% in the past year, according to the Agriculture Department. The inflation rate nationwide on farmland is 12.4%, according to the report.
"What we have seen over the past year or two was, when housing starts to go up with new building construction, that puts pressure on farmland, especially on those urban fringes," College of Agriculture at Purdue University Jason Henderson told the Times. "And that leads to a cascading ripple effect into land values even farther and farther away."
Billionaire Bill Gates is the biggest private farmland owner in the U.S., buying 2,100 acres in North Dakota for $13.5 million recently.
Tennessee farm consultant Nathaniel Bankhead denounced the "digital feudalism" in the industry to the Times.
"Places that I have looked at as potential farmland are being bought up in cash before I can even go through the process that a working-class person has to do to access land," he told the paper. "And the ironic thing is, those are my clients, like I get hired by them to do as a hobby what I'm trying to do as a livelihood. So it's tough to watch."
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