No Risk Farming


Are you interested in no risk farming?

Sorry… there is no such thing.

farms

Merri and I own a farm in North Carolina and this orange grove below in Florida so we know there is no such thing as no risk farming.

A reader recently sent me this note.  Gary, is it true one can invest like a share holder in this agriculture business if one knows nothing about the business? Another words invest, sit back and reap the rewards?  I am interested because I trust your judgement in business people to have honest integrity. Will be waiting to here from you .  Thank you.

My reply:  I am a great believer in the future potential of agriculture and there are many ways to participate in farming investments.  One way is to invest in shares of a big ag company.

Take Tejon Land Company (symbol TRC on the NYSE) as an example.

Business.yahoo.com summarizes this company when it says:

Tejon ranch co

Here is Tejon’s share price chart from the same site.

tejon chart

The Tejon shares have shown a steady rose… but the up and down nature shows that there is plenty of volatility in agricultural shares.

Falling share and real estate prices may have kept the share price down but the company has 270,000 acres of land… a great deal of it is in agriculture that creates intrinsic and somewhat hidden value.

Tejon Ranch was founded in 1843 as a Mexican land grant. The shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange as NYSE: TRC.

In the decades that followed, the ranch grew in size as additional land grants were purchased by Tejon’s founder, General Edward Fitzgerald Beale, a historic figure in early California.

Today, Tejon is a diversified real estate development and agricultural company whose principal asset is that 270,000-acre land holding located approximately 60 miles north of Los Angeles and 25 miles south of Bakersfield.

The company generates operating revenue from land entitlement and development, commercial leases, marketing of real estate projects, oil and mineral production, utility easements, recreational activities, and filming locations. Tejon also generates revenue from farming almonds, pistachios, walnuts, and wine grapes.

Another way to invest in agriculture is to own your own farm and have it managed.

Merri and I do this second alternative. We have an orange grove and know nothing about farming it.  We have a grove manager who does all the work and so far have enjoyed a nice profit each year.  The management company has a long history and I have not had a problem with them.

gary-scott-orange-grove

Orange gold. When the crop is good and prices are high… farming profits can be impressive.

All agriculture does have risk… weather…  commodity gluts or price problems in markets, disease… drought… any of these can create loss.

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Here is one of the photos I took when during our first two years of grove ownership we sweated (or rather shivered) through two record long freezes.  The crops could have been ruined and worse the trees killed.  We irrigated regularly and were lucky… but that does not mean there was no risk.  In the late 1800s over 90% of Florida’s orange trees were killed in a sudden and severe cold snap.

One has to be sure that there is a good manager. The less one knows about the manager and about farming the greater the risk.

I assume you are asking about the Ecuador farm management program offered by Jean Marie Butterlin.   We do not participate in the farm program by the way and are not involved in any way financially so we have no agenda to promote this other than to show our readers ways they can earn income in Ecuador. We have worked with Jean Marie for a number of years and have found him efficient, honest, honorable and responsive in all our dealings.  We enjoyed our association enough to sponsor his Ecuador businesses and he heads Ateam Ecuador.  We love Ecuador.  We like farming. We trust Jean Marie so our belief is that his will be a good honest program… but no one, especially in this day and age, just “invests, sits back and reaps the rewards” in any investment.  There are bugs, beetles, rains, blights, scale, competition and a host of obstacles to hurdle to make a profit.  Agriculture may be one of the most fickle businesses of all… though my experience is it is also one of the most exciting.  There is some miracle… a thrill we feel watching those crops grow… like a child.

Whatever investment you make… look at those you work with carefully and always deal with them in a businesslike way.

The third way is to make farming a lifestyle.  This is as much a lifestyle decision as it is an investment.
This is why we have shown many farms on agricultural tours.   Take, for example, this Swiss cheese business that we toured.

Here are Merri and me leading the group in. Imagine how living in this environment could bring balance… reduce stress and enhance health.

CHEESE FACTORY

Here is the quaint house (a modified Swiss chalet!) where you would live.

CHEESE FACTORY

Plus everything here is organic…including the cheese.

The image “http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3006/2304587785_51534e9683.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

One delegate who grew up on a dairy said these were the healthiest dairy cattle he had ever seen.

CHEESE FACTORY

Plus the Swiss equipment was perfect.

CHEESE FACTORY

I am not sure this dairy ever sold. The price was quite high.  However we have shown readers an avocado farm… and organic tomato operation and once a wonderful peach grove.

I am told that small farms especially are selling really quickly now.

Farming is the perfect type of opportunity for someone who has a passion for farming, food production and wants to live that lifestyle.

At our recent Quantum Thinking + Investing and Business seminar, we ended with these two slides that are relevant to farming and investment risk.

Slide #1: We know less than we think we do…that’s OK.

#1: Listen to those who disagree to expand horizons.
#2: Truth is not created by repletion of an error.
#3: Opt for certainty, you will die anonymously.
#4: Don’t care too much about daily volatility.
#5: Don’t care too little about strategy.
#6: Don’t count on extraordinary returns.
#7: Do not underexpose (don’t make too many short term decisions and not enough long term decisions) yourself for the long term.

Slide #2:  Risk is Our Partner

#1: Embrace it
#2: Adapt
#3: Look for Contrasts & Trends
#4: Look for Value
#5: Invest in What You Know
#6: Have Fun
#7: Have Options!

Agricultural investments have the advantage of overall low real estate mixed with extra price potential due to rising and food prices.  Though agricultural investments have risks… there are huge lifestyle benefits and extra profit potential now.

Learn more about investing in agriculture as a Multi Currency Subscriber.  Subscribe here $79.

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Gary

Ecuador offers special agricultural benefits now.

Ecuador Agricultural Expedition

Ecuador Agricultural Property Expedition by Jean Marie Butterlin.

May 14-15-16, 2012

Sept 17-18-19, 2012

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See Ecuador agricultural property by four wheel drive.

Merri’s and my first property purchase many years ago was agricultural land… over 900 acres… formerly in sugar cane, citrus, pineapples and avocados… the top soil deep and rich.

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Here is a photo of Merri feeding one of our horses.  We still have that hacienda land, Rosaspamba, (the place of the roses).

Plus we have added more agricultural land… and are looking to add more.

An excerpt from a recent message entitled Beating & Benefiting From the Economic Crash explains why: In the seven years before its peak in July 2006, the US home-price index surged 155 percent. Since then, it’s fallen 33 percent.

This creates a huge opportunity. Economic history since before WWI suggests that we’ll see the final crunch of this 15 year bear in 2011 and perhaps 2012.  Then the light at the end of the tunnel will appear… slowly at first but picking up a head of steam aiming for the next bubble of something like 2030.

The way to beat this crunch is to set your affairs so you do not lose during the next crunch and have liquidity to take advantage of the low prices and high value the crunch could bring.

There are numbers of reasonably safe pockets of opportunity.  For example inflation during these difficult economic times has helped profits on agricultural property.

Excerpts from a May 31, 2011 article “Farm boom missing Main Street” by By John Gaps III, of The Des Moines Register show what I mean:  GUTHRIE CENTER, Iowa – Fifteen miles northeast of here, a quarter of a square-mile of farmland sold for $1.3 million this spring.

Farmers can lock in about $6.73 a bushel on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for corn they will deliver to market in December, nearly twice the price a year ago.

The sustained surge in corn prices has driven the average value of an acre of Iowa farmland to $5,708, according to a March survey by the Realtors Land Institute. That’s up 19.7% from the previous six months and up from $1,865 in March 2001, according to the Institute’s Troy Louwagie. The land northeast of Guthrie Center— where fields are flat and the soil is black — sold for $8,600 per acre, according to the county assessor.

“The rural economy is very good right now despite signs of a peaking commodities market and concerns about drought creeping north from Texas, flooding along the Mississippi River, and rain-delayed corn planting in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. American farmers who grow everything from rice to sugar beets have enjoyed a year of historically high prices, said Don Roose, a trader at U.S. Commodities in West Des Moines.

It’s not just towns surrounded by crop farming that have declined amid high commodity prices.

In heavily forested west central Alabama, the town of York has suffered as the timber industry has consolidated, said Auburn sociology professor Conner Bailey, president-elect of the Rural Sociological Association.

That’s despite steadily climbing timber prices since the middle of 2009 on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

This is why in the last several years I have been writing about and adding agricultural real estate to my portfolio.

There are few places with as much agricultural potential and diversity as Ecuador. It is not surprising that many readers ask us about Ecuador farmland or agricultural property there.

Our first reply to anyone asking is… agricultural land is hard to find and get it!   Finding our hacienda took us well over a year of dedicated search.  Searching for good farmland is not like viewing a batch of properties in a town or village.  First, it often takes hours just to get to the land.  Secondly, it almost always takes hours inspecting the land.  You do not do quick walk throughs on  100 or more hectares.  One is lucky to be able to see one property a day unless you can be really very organized.

Then once you find something that looks good… the hard part begins.  Of course there is always the price!

Then there is the research.  One seemingly great property we looked at “had great water rights”  we were told.  “Then why does it have cisterns all over the place?”  we asked ourselves.  A deep check of the deeds and talking with neighbors unveiled the fact that what’s on paper does not always match precedent and reality.  There were water rights on paper, yes, but they were disputed by numerous neighbors who had for years continually cut the water lines every time the current owner installed them.  It was just pure luck that we were suspicious and turned down this property, which still has not sold.

Buying agricultural property is not like buying urban property from a title point of view.  There are no rural land registers, so deeds have to be carefully researched by an attorney.

Finally if you buy it… what’s next?   Who do you hire. What do you grow… who buys the crops?

Yet because there has been such interest, I challenged Jean Marie Butterlin to create an Ecuador Agricultural tour.   He has been working hard at this for over 6 months, and I am proud to announce that he has set up an excellent program for those who are really interested in farming in Ecuador.

Here is what Jean Marie has explained about the Ecuador real estate tours he has created and conducted.

When I was 40 years old and told my friends that I would retire at 50, they were laughing.  They are not laughing anymore!

My name is Jean Marie Butterlin and I live on one of the nicest, most affordable coasts of all South America with my wife Pascale and although I consider myself retired, I still like to work… but only at what I really like.

How did I achieve that ?

I had a plan.

Part of that plan was to move to a nice area where it was less expensive to live and much less stressful than Europe.   I found that place after traveling and inspecting most South American countries.  We chose Ecuador and more specifically Bahia as our home.

We live now as well on $2,000 a month in Bahia than we did in Europe on $10,000 a month.

When you are planning to retire and live the good life, you should look at both parts of the equation, expenses and what you can earn.I have been able to lower my expenses considerably by living in Bahia.  We live in front of the Malecon enjoying the sun 320 days per year.

But the key to retirement is really in the INCOME part of the equation.   How can you generate income without working too hard?

The answer is to have an “outside the box”  plan.  If you do what everybody else does, chances are you’ll earn what everyone else does.

A lot of younger clients on our real estate tours ask  “How can  I generate a little income in Ecuador”?  They say they would move down immediately if they could. This started me thinking  about how to show a few select clients a chance to be part of that world of retirees in Ecuador who work only at what they like.

I have put together a special plan for those seeking to move and earn in Ecuador now!

Here is the plan and here are the facts:

* Every economist is currently saying that agriculture will be the next place to invest because :

  • God is not making more arable land.
  • The world is running out of food.  China has been buying and leasing arable land all over Africa and in South America for example.  A lot of the smart money is going into arable all over the continent.

* Ecuador has some of the cheapest yet best agricultural land in all of South America.  The climate is best for growing as well with 365 days a year of direct sunlight.  In many parts of Ecuador, farmers can get 3 and even 4 harvests per year, depending on the water available on the property.

* However, most Ecuadorian farmers have not yet learned how to produce and manage a farm. They are lacking higher education and management skills as well as equipment.  Some Ecuador farmers still plow with oxen.

*  Many Ecuadorian farmers do not know how to sell and do not treat the farm as a real business.

There is a great opportunity that lies in this combination of cheap, arable land, the geographical place of Ecuador on the equator and lack of good agronomical skills.

Here is the chance to attend the first agri business expedition, planned for October 17, 18 and 19.

This is a tour for those who want to have an active agricultural business in Ecuador and have $100,000 minimum to invest.

This tour will be conducted over three long, jam packed days to provide you a low cost efficient way to inspect Ecuador agricultural property that is legitimately for sale at a reasonable price.

Day 1 – 9 am to 6 pm: Detailed presentations by agri engineers and specialists of several type of agri businesses. These presentations  include costs, types of soils for each type of crop, risk analysis, potential profits, timing, where to find the buyers of crops,  introduction to buyers  looking for specific crops.

On the tour we look “outside the box” at crops that can for example produce “biofuel”. We’ll look at land where one company in Manta will buy every available crop at market price.   We know the owners of that company and you will be introduced to them.

Day 2: Visits farms for sale.  Here is one farm we inspected on our first tour.  This agri property has 203 hectares (507 acres) divided into:

28 hectares (70 cares) of balsa trees.  In 5 years these will fetch $30,000 a hectare.

30 hectares (75 acres) of African palm trees in production (the nuts fetch $250 per ton).

Ecuador-agricultural-land

– 140 hectares (350 acres) of pasture sufficient for 200 head of cattle or other crops that can produce an excellent return.

Ecuador-agricultural-land

– 3 small

Ecuador-agricultural-land

and one large river along the property with water availability.

Ecuador-agricultural-land

– Close to the main road

Ecuador-agricultural-land

– $6600/hectare ($2,640 an acre) asking including a small casita for caretakers.

Day 3: Q&A’s with the agri specialists…with round table discussions. We break into small groups to discuss in more details each business its costs and potential profits.

We have inspected and investigated all properties prior paying special attention to three special issues:

* water on site
* access roads
* good port close

We only show land that has water in Manabi province near Manta the second largest port in Ecuador.

We have investigated electricity, pricing and title plus will have speakers during breakfast and dinners who will discuss these  issues and the legal matters pertaining to agri businesses in Ecuador.

These experts will be available for consulting during the tour and later… covering technical matters on which crops are best suited for each soil and what times of the year are best for planting and harvest.  The tour pays special attention to reviewing the marketing aspect of each crop and where to find buyers.

We use our contacts with local people were born in the area… who know the land owners… who know what the “market” price should be and we do not show farmland where the seller is asking an unrealistic price or if there are any doubts about ownership or clear title.

We also provide administration, accounting and legal consultants who will answer questions about owning and running a company in Ecuador, a civil code country and very different from the US and Canada which run on common law.

Included in the tour fee:

*  Agri engineers who can help you start your business, provide services and the follow up.

* Legal experts in incorporation, administration accounting etc..

* Experts in marketing agricultural crops.

Although we do not advise being absentee owner, we can provide all the services needed to run the business with our agricultural team.

If your agricultural knowledge is limited, we have the experts who will help you through the learning curve.

The big Question is “How much can someone make in agri business in Ecuador?”

The Answer:  We will not show any businesses that do not produce on a regular basis at least 10% net return. Many agri businesses you will see can pay off land costs within 1 to 2 years.

The Agri Business Expedition fee is $1,990/single $2,990 couple.

For efficiency and logistics, this tour is strictly limited to 16 people… 4 persons per four wheel drive vehicle.

Jean Marie

Ecuador has many Agricultural Advantages and we have been recommending the idea of investing in Ecuador agriculture for years.

Here is an excerpt from an April 10, 2007 message  at this site entitled “Ecuador Agriculture”: Ecuador agriculture can offer a better lifestyle and opportunity as good prices rise. Sometimes we forget the importance of life’s basics…such as food. Until those basics cost more.

Ecuador agriculture is important because Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal included an article that began: “Prices of farm goods are climbing – in part because of demand for crop-based fuels – pushing up food prices around the world and creating a new source of inflationary pressure. The rise in food prices is already causing distress among consumers in some parts of the world — especially relatively poor nations like India and China. If the trend gathers momentum, it could contribute to slower global growth by forcing consumers to spend less on other items or spurring central banks to fight inflation by raising interest rates.”

This is one of the wonderful benefits of Ecuador agriculture, the extreme supply of excellent but low cost food.

Ecuador is a Garden of Eden and here is a fact you probably did not know. The inhabitants of this region developed more than half the agricultural products that the world eats today. Among these are more than many varieties of corn and potato. These foods also include squash, beans, peppers, peanuts, popcorn, yucca and quinoa.

They even learned to use freezing night temperatures and warm days to freeze dry potatoes and create potato flour.

At the market, three blocks from our hotel where we shop.  Open air restaurants in the front of the market offer excellent meals, vegetarian, or chicken, steak, fish or pork for about $1.

There are numbers of  fresh picked vegetables offered by happy friendly people.

And every type of fruit you can imagine, from pineapple to coconut, papaya, mango, apples, pears, bananas, berries and numerous other tropical fruits all at bargains prices by Western standards and ripe all year round.

Many exotic spices at a 1/20th the cost in the US or Canada. This makes life especially wonderful and inexpensive.

This creates opportunity as well.

Ecuador’s geographical location gives it a distinct advantage in agricultural production. Its exports include asparagus, bananas, broccoli, cocoa, coffee, flowers, hearts of palm, lentils, papaya, passion fruit, pineapple, plantain, mango, red beans, and tomatoes. Ecuador has mainly an agricultural economy, though oil is its largest source of revenue, and industry has expanded. Agriculture employs 32 percent of the workforce. 6.4 million acres is used in agriculture. Permanent pasture covers 17 percent of the total area and forests nearly 43 percent. In the highlands subsistence agriculture and the production of staples for the urban areas are predominant (corn, wheat, barley, potatoes, pulses, and various vegetables). In the coastal lowlands tropical crops are grown to export. Ecuador is the largest exporter of bananas in the world and among the largest exporters of shrimp and roses.

Merri and I have been recommending Ecuador for almost 15 years…we have been recommending investing in agricultural property for even longer. Agricultural property in Ecuador makes excellent sense for those who like both ideas.  We are very pleased that Jean Marie has created this excellent tour.  We are happy to share this opportunity with you.

Gary

Tour price includes local transportation to the farms but does not include domestic airfare from Quito to Manta and lodging.  Meals are NOT included.

The Agri Business Expedition fee is $1,990/single $2,990 couple.

For efficiency and logistics this tour is strictly limited to 16 people… 4 persons per four wheel drive vehicle.

Who Will Benefit From This Tour

Attendees on this tour will range from those who want their own sustainable organic farm like Neverlands Farm in Loja to those who want a small agricultural property to enhance existing income… to those who want to run medium and larger agri businesses.

Small – Organic  – Sustainable

Neverland Organic Farms is a great case study of people creating an isolated sustainable organic farm

ecuador-organic-farm

See about the organic farm here

Income Supplement – Beautiful Way of Life

A good case study for those looking for a way of life and income supplement is this  six acre organic tomato farm that delegates on on a real estate tour visited.   This shows a perfect little Ecuador retirement operation, so where should we start?

I think it is with the guinea pigs…

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The farm has many of them in these cages.

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Clover on the farm feeds them.  Their manure helps organically fertilize the corn.

ecuador-retirement

The corn husks are mixed with manure to be used as fertilizer and the corn feeds the…

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pigeons…

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chickens and…

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pigs.

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All of these animals create more organic fertilizer that this farmer uses to grow tomatoes.

ecuador-retirement

Here is the Ecuador organic farmer with our driver Jorge, Alberto Verdezoto and Peggy Carper.

Tomatoes grow quickly here it seems.  These newly planted organic tomatoes will be ready in three weeks. I find this hard to believe but this is what the farmer said.  Though my Spanish has been known to miss on occasion.

ecuador-retirement

These will look like…

ecuador-retirement

this and…

ecuador-retirement

provide

ecuador-retirement

income that…

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would provide a nice retirement income… $25,000 a year we are told.

Other benefits include farm fresh eggs.

ecuador-retirement

Trout are in the ponds next to the pigeon coops.

ecuador-retirement

A good case study for a specific and large Ecuador agri operation is the farming operation set up by Young Living Essential oils.

ecuador-farms

After creating a marketing system for the oils and farming in the USA, Gary and his wife…

ecuador-farms

moved to Ecuador… began a large farming operation as well as…

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there own processing and a health spa.

Ecuador is a perfect place for many types of agriculture… large and small.  Find your farm in the safe and efficient way on an Ecuador Agricultural Tour.

Included in the price is all transportation from the hotel to the farms.  Airfares to, from and within Ecuador, hotels and meals are NOT included.

The Agri Business Expedition fee is $1,990/single $2,990 couple.

For efficiency and logistics this tour is strictly limited to 16 people… 4 persons per four wheel drive vehicle.

Learn about the Ecuador Farm Management Program here.


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