Ranch Investor Podcast

Colter DeVries and George Baird

Episode 9 | Mastering the Art of Professional Farm Management: Insider Tips


Ever wondered how industry veterans in real estate and agriculture reached their current status?

It’s a blend of upbringing, personal experiences, and the knowledge acquired through their network.

In this episode, we’ll hear from George Baird of landmarkag.com, a man who’s been with ASFMRA since day one. Discover how this remarkable organization has shaped today’s ranchers and farmers across the United States.

Being a part of ASFMRA isn’t just about bragging rights; it means gaining access to insider insights and knowing who to consult for your ranch or farm needs. Stay tuned because Colter and George just spilled out who they are friends are in the organization. 

Speaker 1: 0:02
I’m Colter DeVries, owner of Ranch Investor Advisory and Brokerage Services.

Speaker 2: 0:06
The Ranch Investor podcast, curated by subject matter experts to give you immense benefit, because we believe your time is valuable.

Speaker 1: 0:17
Well, thanks for coming on. The podcast I don’t know problem. Thanks for having me. I’ve been looking to have you on for quite a while now. I hope I don’t disappoint you. Tell me about your business. Tell me, george Bird, your background, where you’re at what you do.

Speaker 3: 0:36
Okay, yeah. So this is my 30th crop year managing farm properties and the way I got into it was kind of unique. I didn’t know anything about professional farm management growing up. I’d only knew of property management from actually working for somebody Like you’d be their right-hand man, whether it’s my grandfather or my dad, and all everyone to do when I went to school was get out of college, go get a four-door truck and go back home and farm. And my dad quit farming my senior year, high school and that kind of interrupted my whole life plan, right, because ever since I was knee-high I was running around on the farm my granddaddy and my father, and so that was different. I ended up going to junior college and then went on to Mississippi State and even going into my senior year of college I didn’t know anything about professional farm management. And then I did a summer internship with Farmers National Company the summer of 93. And that completely opened my eyes to managing property from an absentee landowner’s perspective, much less that investor’s perspective and beyond that, and that’s when I knew I’d found what I wanted to do from that. I didn’t want to just go sell chemicals or be that kind of stuff. This was the way to stay involved with the land work with landowners, and it got really going that way. So worked, did the summer internship and when I graduated in December of 93, had a job lined up and came back, I was going to come back and shadow two different people in the Farmers National Company office and one of those guys had left to go buy out his family business. And so they just threw me in and said here you go to Southeast Missouri and Arkansas, and that’s kind of my core territory. I’ve run ever since but worked there until 2001. And then my boss there and how we left when we started land management group and then a few years ago I started my own company called Landmark Act Capital, and that’s what I do today and still run kind of the core of the Delta. Some in Mississippi now have expanded my territory back really where I grew up. Matter of fact, some of the bigger holdings I have now. If you zoom out enough to get the whole farm in the picture, you can see my granddaddy’s farm right there on the corner. It was kind of nice to get back and get back home and mess around down there and it’s been interesting. But yeah, this is my 30th crop year, just completed, which it seems like it’s only been about 10 or 15 years, but it’s flown by. So, in addition to property management and do sales and acquisition stuff really focus more on acquisitions than just being a traditional listing agent? I always say give me one client, let me go look at 20 farms, instead of trying to list 20 farms and show that, yeah, those farms to 20 different clients, because my course excuse me, my course focused on the management aspect of it and so I’d rather it’s just been serves me better, more like an acquisition agent or buyer’s agent Excuse me real quick, got some silencing thing going on too.

Speaker 1: 4:02
Yeah. I hear it. I’m gonna have to grab a cup of coffee here pretty soon too. I just started a pot so I could get real. I could get real grumpy if I don’t have my cup here this morning. Understand when you say Delta, I think back to a three geography and I’m thinking of where the Mississippi enters the Gulf of Mexico.

Speaker 3: 4:28
What is the Delta? So the, so that that is the Delta. But when you think about the Mississippi Arkansas Delta, we’re thinking about the Mississippi River Delta, and so it’s basically from the boot hill, missouri, to the northeast Louisiana, kind of north north central Louisiana, and it’s just real flat area that’s that borders Mississippi River. It’s never more than about 120 miles wide in Arkansas and about 80 or 90 miles wide in Mississippi, and I wish I had a map up I could show you just a core up and down the Mississippi River, through there, flat, you know, good fertile soils, flat land Cause. Then you go beyond to the west and Arkansas, you go east of Mississippi, then you start hitting the foothills of those arch or the or the hills of Mississippi.

Speaker 1: 5:19
And so, yes, you have this, this valley, this cropping area. How long is that? That’s from the boot hill of Missouri down to is that like. Mexico or how.

Speaker 3: 5:32
No, it’s not quite that far. You’re going down to, basically, vicksburg, mississippi, and so you’re call it without pulling a map. You know 300, 350 miles long and you know not more than you know a hundred and well about. You know it goes. It’s never more than really wider than 120 miles, maybe a little bit wider when you get down to the northwest. You know the northwest part of Mississippi and it goes over to Arkansas. So that’s, very traditionally flooded, you know, year in and year out, until they built the, the levee system back in the 20s and 30s.

Speaker 1: 6:10
Okay, so that used to flood a lot until they probably the army, the Corps of Engineers built the levee system and controlled the flooding, and that’s that’s why it’s such a fertile plane. Is all that flooding?

Speaker 3: 6:22
Yeah, until they had that, you know, a lot of people lived in the hills of Mississippi and then they would come down into the Delta, or Arkansas, come down to the Delta, you know, in clear land and that’s how they started converting those properties over. That’s why you know you don’t see a lot of your older towns in the in the Delta will not be, you know, in the in the floodplain area that was traditionally in the flood zone because they had to retreat, you know, to the, to the hills, to get away from the, from the floods.

Speaker 1: 6:53
So are those towns then in the Delta. Are they only as new as or as recent as, like the new deal?

Speaker 3: 7:01
There’s some that are a little bit older, but most most of it is not was developed all after that. You know it was developed when they were clearing ground and developing it for cotton production was, you know, the core back in the day. And then, as cotton kind of went away, some of those towns have have subsequently gone away or started to dry up some kind of boom and bust in some of those areas, boom towns and ghost towns. Yep, yeah. But yeah, it’s great soils. You know there’s a lot of good operators there and one thing that makes it really attractive is as compared to make up maybe a Midwest area where it’s harder for like investor groups or buyers to put together larger units. You know there’s. You can put together some sizeable units of land through the Mississippi Delta and over in Arkansas and Louisiana. I’m working on worked on a few things just in the last couple of years that were, you know, several thousand acres, whereas a lot of times in the Midwest you might see an 80 or 40 or 120, you know where they’ll take a 600 and break it up into 10 tracks. If you break it up too much here, people nobody wants to show up for the auction because they said you messed it up. So but it’s just a but. It’s some good fertile ground. These can be very. It can vary a lot based on the way the river laid it over the years. You can have low lying, heavier depressions, you can have sandier, lomere soils, but it can be very good and it’s forever. We just focused on cotton, or you were a bean rice guy and then, when you introduced corn into our mix years ago, then we figured out. We had a lot of optionality with our farm ground too, so we can make the 200 plus bushel corn, we can make 12 to 1500 plus pound cotton, we can make 60 to 80 bushel beans consistently and we can grow rice, and so that gives us. The real key is setting up your property so you can have the flexibility to go in and out of a lot of crops. And one thing about that million dollar, $1.3 million cotton picker it only picks cotton, right, but if you have the combine you can do a lot of stuff. And then you bring some other specialty crops into the mix. There’s some areas with peanuts, few areas of potatoes, sweet potatoes, but most of what I focus on is the core crops, the core mix of crops.

Speaker 1: 9:28
Well, and because we are ranch investor, George, are we talking about floppy eared cattle in that region?

Speaker 3: 9:37
Yeah, I’d have to defer somebody else on that. So we don’t, we don’t you’ll see some you’ll see some black hengis, but you’re most of that’s over in the hills. That’s something I don’t get too much of.

Speaker 1: 9:51
Now the institutional investor. You talk about groups coming in, buying bigger pieces or putting together bigger farms. Is that more of a recent recent economy of that area? Because normally the from what I hear, the Delta wasn’t institutional investor grade or just wasn’t on the radar up until what? 15 years ago?

Speaker 3: 10:22
Yeah, well, I think part of that was just the land was so tightly hittled. You know from large families that they weren’t getting the opportunities, but some of the you know the manual lives and in the veins of the world, they’ve been in the, they’ve been in this market. You know UBS. They’ve been in here for 25, 30 plus years and have longstanding holdings. I’d say some of the latest money really started when you started seeing a lot of people looking for alternative investments in, in, in, in what’s the word I’m looking for?

Speaker 2: 11:01
Just escaped me, but you know they’re looking to diversify.

Speaker 3: 11:04
That’s what they’re looking to diversify the portfolio and so a lot of people started jumping into farmland investing 10, 15 years ago. I’d say the newest money really came in 10 years ago because now we’re starting to see some of those holdings come up on their 10 year rotation and when they’re when they’re getting money funded by pension funds or teacher retirement systems or something like that you know they have obligations they’re going to make and so there’s hard for them to commit money more than 10 to 15 years. And now we’re starting to see some of those 10 year flushes come up and I think that’s going to help increase some, some volume and some opportunity here. And it’s not going to be because there’s something wrong with asset necessarily. It’s just that’s just part of their strategy. You know, as far as diversification and you know somebody asked me not to long ago well, if they can just go take money and get a you know five plus percent CD, why wouldn’t they just do that? Won’t we see a bunch of money come out of farmland? And not necessarily because they may reduce it some. But you know, it’s a diversification strategy. So they might already might already have 10 or 15 percent NCDs and they probably have commercial real estate and they probably have some stocks, and so they might be only putting one or two, three percent of their money into farmland. So just because they can go clip a 5% coupon somewhere else, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to get out of farmland. There may be some strategic changes to it, but I think they’re here to stay and there’s, you know, there’s not hate to venture to guess but 20 plus groups out there sitting with some cash rate to deploy if they can find some opportunity, and that’s doing the theme of our year. This year it’s just limited opportunity for acquisitions and stuff. There’s a very little supply on the market.

Speaker 1: 13:01
Are these groups regionally agnostic? Would they? Would they throw you into the same basket of considerations as the Willamette Valley in Oregon? Or or institutional grade soybean and corn ground in Illinois? Or is it? Is it? Does it even matter the area, or they just going after black dirt?

Speaker 3: 13:27
The ones that most of them are very agnostic and they’re just balancing their portfolio where the you know, just like you would any portfolio they’re like they’re just going to put some of the Pacific Northwest, they’re going to put some in the corn belt. Some people are looking in, you know, texas, southeast. You know some different opportunities there. There are a few that I think are dedicated just to be in solely, you know like located in our market. There’s also some that are not going to ever probably come to our market, that are into you know more vertical integration and and they want to be fully into the mix. So I think majority are looking at some kind of diversification strategy. Well, I might be putting 20, 25% of the land in the Midwest, you know, 20, 25% in the Mid South. Then, looking at, there may be some permanent crops or tree nuts or something, and kind of having a good mix of everything.

Speaker 2: 14:20
So I think it’s all independent, you know.

Speaker 3: 14:22
Independently, however, they want to come up with their strategy.

Speaker 1: 14:28
Bill Gates did? He put that area on the map.

Speaker 3: 14:32
I don’t. It was on the map a lot longer than he was here, but he has a few holdings down here.

Speaker 1: 14:40
He does. Yeah, and when you say sizable, I mean what is institutional grade? Are they looking at minimum 10 million, minimum five, minimum 30, what to move their needle per se, what does it take and how many acres is that where you’re at?

Speaker 3: 15:00
So you’re probably, you know they’re certain that would like to start with that 10 to 15 million dollars you know as a base, and then then they don’t mind adding some smaller stuff. You know, to that I was talking with somebody recently and we were looking at basically a you know a platform of 25 million dollars as we went acquisition and then begin to add beyond that. Then they don’t mind adding a two or 300, you know two or 300 acres here or there. You know so a 25 million dollar deal. You know so quality land at $7,000 an acre. You know you, uh, what’s that? Little over 1400 acres or so.

Speaker 1: 15:43

Speaker 3: 15:44
Yeah, so but it you know they don’t mind adding some smaller units, you know. But there’s just, there hasn’t been that much come up. There have been a few of the funds change hands recently and those were bid as package portfolio deals. That topped out in the 90 to 150 million dollar package, but of multiple farms, multiple areas, multiple counties, sometimes in multiple states.

Speaker 1: 16:13
So one thing I’ve heard through the network American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers where, george, you are a accredited farm manager and you’re also accredited land consultant, then we do those courses together.

Speaker 3: 16:31
Yeah, accredited ad consultant yeah, you’re AAC Okay. The AAC.

Speaker 1: 16:36
Accredited ad consultant through ASFMRA. In the Midwest it’s quite common that if you’re a professional manager you’re going to have an office, serve a local regional area and there’s a lot of people who inherited grandpa’s 40 or grandpa’s 80, as you said, and out west here the homesteader kind of country, the higher dryer it could be. I inherited the family 160. That seems to be a large portion of the portfolio. Is that what you have there in the Delta as well, kind of this small regional, very localized, or is it more institutional grade, like industrial?

Speaker 3: 17:26
It’s still very family-held and that’s changed over the last 10 years and I think that change is going to accelerate over the next 10 plus years because there are so many more families that you know where. You know the two sons and the daughter stay nearby, you know, and have opportunities to work and thrive there. Maybe their kids went off to college and then they had to go other places, you know, to seek opportunity and so now you don’t have quite that connection back to the land as families are getting further removed from the land and I think we’re going to start seeing that change. But it’s still largely tightly held properties and some of the properties that you see that are institutional owned. Some of those have turned over for, you know, over the years every three to four or five years, over and over and over again, and there’s some of the best land that you will see in this market hasn’t hit the market at all. I had a farmer friend of mine drive through the hometown I grew up in one day and he called me as soon as he went through there. He said I just went by your grandad’s farm. He said why didn’t anything ever change hands around here? He said this is a good area. I said that’s exactly why it doesn’t change hands. It’s very tightly held, you know. But then if you look at the families and how they’ve, you know they’re moving around. There’s not maybe that quite that connection there to the land and with with, like my cousins, as it would be with me or my dad, his siblings.

Speaker 1: 19:02
You can’t replace it. Once you sell it, there’s nothing to buy into.

Speaker 3: 19:07
No, not at all.

Speaker 1: 19:08
That would be superior yeah.

Speaker 2: 19:11
So who’s the owner the?

Speaker 3: 19:12
main property I picked up this year was basically for three families, you know, and they had some, some mixed holdings and it was a total of about 5,000 acres in that area. And but now all those kids are getting further and further removed from the farm, you know, and their professionals, you know, all over the country seeking other opportunities, and so they’ll either look to a credit add consultant or a farm manager like myself to basically take an asset management strategy right. It’s not just as much about the farm as it is. We’re going to make sure we get a good return. It’s going to, you know, support a family and if it can’t get that, then maybe they’ll look at doing something different. So we’re getting there and change up the leasing structure, make some improvements and make it where it’s, a valuable asset that the family can continue to hold on forever. If even if they’re not getting what they think they should get, then they might end up moving it. But we’re taking a full asset management strategy implementing so we can try to make sure we maintain that farm and the family for as many years, as many years to come, as they can.

Speaker 1: 20:24
So who’s the more difficult client? The, the generational family that’s now absentee owned. I might have some sentimentality attachment to it, but they also have a higher requirement and need. I don’t know if I should say that For annual yield, or the institution, the, the pension fund, the TIA, craft, new Vien, ubs, united, bank of Canada’s, of the world, switzerland’s. Who’s the more difficult client?

Speaker 3: 20:57
Yeah, I’ve had a lot of success working with both of them. I think the real key is just open communication. Make sure that you you lay out everything on the front end so you kind of know what the full aspect is when you’re looking at high quality farms. You know that’s pretty easy Once. Sometimes what it’s hard to deal with is some of these threshold or return requirements. Some of the institutional investors want to put on things when, when the markets are not going in the right direction, right, you know, and then they’re. You end up having, for the sake of return, you end up having a lot of turnover with operators and that just kind of heals your progress. So that can be a real hurdle. Instead of like really taking a hands on or approach to sharing some of that risk and that crop reduction, you know, not just trying to get the highest absolute cash rent out of it, because that the farmers have to make some money too. So what we try to do is find a good balance. Like I have 30, I manage about 30,000 acres, just under 30,000 acres, and I’d now have after this year. I will not have any cash leases. Every one of my leases is a share based lease. Now, some of them have some minimum cash rents. Yeah, maybe because of AGI issues or just you know some they just don’t. They can’t take any government payments or they’re maxed out for my landowners, but I don’t have any true cash rents. A lot of mine are all share based rents with some minimums to it. You know, if a farmer makes 1200, he can give you three, but if he makes six he can’t pay two. So we’re trying to find that good balance and the key to that is, you know, good farm quality, capital improvements, quality, operator and share risk and with that you can make some of my best. Farmers won’t pay me $300 cash rent but I’m cash and checks equivalent to $350 to $400 an acre. Like especially a year like last year we saw really big rice prices, that’s some rice returns that were hitting well over, excuse me, $400 an acre, you know so it’s. I like to be in the game with a farmer. Gives me the best opportunity on the upside.

Speaker 1: 23:21
So that’s a crop share flex lease.

Speaker 3: 23:24
Yeah, yeah, we don’t. It’s not a true flex lease in the sense of capping out, like the production total of the cost of it, mine’s more of a greater of a minimum cash rent or share, whichever is the greatest. Traditionally it must have been that we have a quarter share rent.

Speaker 1: 23:47
And these when you go out, how do you source the guy who’s going to farm this and you? You know that his character is good, His checks are good. Yeah, His practices are good.

Speaker 3: 24:01
Yeah, it’s always. You know it’s through a lot of our, through a lot of our contacts. You know within the American society, farm managers and rural appraisers Cause I stay in contact with most of all the farm managers you know here in the Mid-South and if I need a tenant I can make that phone call and they can do the same here it’s through our appraiser network. You know from the America’s society that that they always have contacts and they know quality operators. You know get to know the farm credit system, the local ag banks. You know just making those contacts, that’s where I start typically and then kind of work around. But you know, in a lot of the communities I’ve been in for 20 plus years now you kind of know pretty quick right who the go-to’s are. But but I’m always leaning on you know other other farm managers and appraisers through our organization system to find quality operators and source quality land for them. I’ve done, you know being an AC now I’ve done quite a bit of work for some of our other members of our organization when they needed a third set of you know third party to come in and you know looking at properties they may have been behind and going to manage for a client. They wanted someone else to come in and put a different set of eyes on it, just as a kind of a third party verification. So you know we can’t, we’re always, we’re really not in the truest sense competitors with each other. We’re, you know, competing against large farmers and we can actually be resources for each other, you know, for for consulting projects, development projects and collaborate and own acquisitions with people.

Speaker 1: 25:45
Oh yeah, your episode is following up Fred Hepler’s and Fred loved to talk about. Oh, we are competitive. The boxing gloves go on during the day but at night. You know we’re friends and we do referrals and make sure we help each other out and get the right information and data and people in place where we can for our fellow brethren in the industry and network. Fred Fred’s a great guy. I love having him in my contact.

Speaker 3: 26:16
Yeah, I’ve had. I’ve had an opportunity to do some stuff with Fred before. You know work wise, and then we actually taught the AC classes together this year. But you know, farm management in the Midwest started with the depression. Farm management in the truest sense that we know it today didn’t start here in the Mid-South till the to the farm crisis in the late 80s. So we’re still really a fairly young industry in the Mid-South Most time, where people don’t even really understand what we do or the value we can bring to the table. And that’s changing, but it’s slowly changing. It’s it’s. We’re basically usually competing against the large farm operators, more so than we are competing against other farm managers for business. It’s usually just letting people know we exist, what we do in the Bay we can bring to the table.

Speaker 1: 27:09
Absolutely. Yeah, I mean, you know I’ve talked about it in Nashville and other times it doesn’t. Farm management doesn’t even exist in the West, and certainly not with with ranches and pasture, pasture, range, ranch, it as far as a professional industry, I mean, it’s highly, I guess you could say, decentralized. It’s not institutionalized in that regard.

Speaker 3: 27:34
So it doesn’t even exist that you’re trying to do right, that’s right, yeah, that’s.

Speaker 1: 27:38
That’s my, my. My strategy is it is becoming, or there is a a want, there is a reason to create an institutional quote, unquote, industrialized type product and sell that to the new Veins and TIA, craf, ubs, ubcs, the pensions, the retirement funds, all those.

Speaker 3: 28:03
So yeah, if you look at, I think you were in one of the meetings we had in Nashville where they were talking about the growth of population and the and the demand for beef and how a lot of countries are going, a lot of countries around the world actually reducing their herds and just in the growth potential like showed there, as I’ve looked around to see if you were in the room because that’s like that, that’s your basic, your thesis right there spelled out for you.

Speaker 1: 28:29
Absolutely yeah, as as the Netherlands kills off their cowherd for for their new religion of global warming.

Speaker 3: 28:38

Speaker 1: 28:38
And and then Australia follows suit. That just makes American protein and the land that’s that provides the protein source, that makes it more valuable. Yeah, that is, that is like the general thesis for these pension funds.

Speaker 3: 28:54
Yeah, so you’re. You’re seeing an increased, a real desire that you’re starting to really look at it and jump in and that’s going to be part of their verse. Diversification strategy from, you know, for wine and almonds and tree nuts to corn, cotton, rice and now cattle.

Speaker 1: 29:14
Exactly, yeah, how? How do you get your exposure to animal proteins, and not just milk, but or chicken or pork, but beef? I mean, beef is the most desired animal protein out there. So how do you get that into your portfolio? And you talked about, once these farms become institutionalized, they start turning over, and I’ve I’ve started to notice and see that, because one group will come in to your, your region, or, let’s say, the Yakima Valley of Washington, they’ll put together this farm and then they’ll sell it to another group who wants it in their big portfolio.

Speaker 3: 29:59

Speaker 1: 30:00
So, like you know, diversification, like you said, timber, rice, cotton beans, now we’ve got grapes and apples and oh, what the hell, yakima, all the beer. What is the green plant that? I don’t drink beer anymore, so I I’ve got Arley and hops and stuff like this and. I’ve got hops. So now you’ve got hops in there and and then once it’s in that big portfolio, then it’s sold as a portfolio to another institution and just kind of keeps getting diluted in in or mixed or diversified within these pensions. These bean counters what they’re looking for.

Speaker 3: 30:44
I think it’s all about diversification and getting that right balance, and because then you now even have some funds that are you know, they’ll have a whole different arm. That’s more about regenerative ag, yeah, and they’re, so. They still have their traditional, but they’re trying to to, you know, find new ways to how they balance regenerative ag and and some of these other ESG type driven products, I guess you’d say Certainly.

Speaker 1: 31:15
Are you seeing that with carbon credits at all Any?

Speaker 3: 31:20
You know, I dove into it just enough to know that I’m not ready to go all the way in and it just doesn’t seem like the market’s mature enough to where they actually want to pay the landowner, the farmers, for what they’re doing. You know, because what are they paying what? 10, 10 X in the European countries for carbon credits they’re paying us like. So it’s people want to sign up and you know I don’t need to be the leader, the first in the gate, but I want to understand what’s going on, how it’s really going to impact. And then what are the opportunities? You know, because at the end of the day, my landowners are focused on return and quality and maintain quality farm and if they have to take some kind of discount for a few years to get there, it better be worth it. I answer a lot of questions about it. We try to dig into it a lot, but we haven’t done anything. The market hadn’t wanted to pay us yet. Now I do think this next farm bill, if and when we actually get one, we will get one, but it’ll be a lot more driven, conservation-minded, conservation-driven products. I think there’s going to be incentives based in there that they’ll pay farmers and landowners to look at some of these programs further, without it just simply being a commodity subsidy program. I think I’ve had a few people ask me about it recently. I said let’s wait until we get to this next farm bill because I don’t want to jump into anything too quick and then we’re kind of ruining our opportunities that may be ahead because one thing that the government does a lot I know that’s a pretty broad statement, but sometimes they don’t reward farmers for what they’ve been doing. That’s part of the issue with carbons. Like you can be doing a lot of your no-till and a lot of the practices for the last 10 years and you don’t qualify because you’re not meeting this level of additionality. But you could have been doing nothing farming terrible practices, doing nothing and say I’m going to do this today and then you get this windfall of money Like that’s just backwards. I had a farm in Arkansas a few years ago. One of the farm bills there talking about we’re going to give landowners credit for what they’ve done on the farm. We got it qualified to redo a reservoir that’s been on a farm for the last. It was built in 1954, and all reservoirs have problems and need to be reworked. We couldn’t get qualified because they had spent all the money doing things over the years and meanwhile the guy next door it gets a brand new 48, you hadn’t done anything and he gets a brand new reservoir built, basically at 75 percent cost share. Now we were able to work around some things and do a little bit different and got some help for funding on that. But so I think, being cautious about it, aware of it and to figure out what’s the best way to navigate it in the future, but haven’t been a little bit leery of all the different programs.

Speaker 1: 34:42
That’s absolutely. You get paid for the additionality, which sometimes feels like moral hazard that you’re rewarding bad behavior. The guys and gals who were doing such a poor job that the government had to step in and incentivize them. Whereas so I did have an economist on who works with the Farm Bill, the USDA programs, he said, yeah, politically it’s much more digestible, palatable to work with the carrot instead of a whip. No one wants to be whipped in the shape.

Speaker 3: 35:19

Speaker 1: 35:20
We’d rather use the carrot to lead you down that path. And CSP is the same way. It sounds like your programs in the Delta equip with that reservoir, I’m guessing was an equip project. We deal the same thing with cattle on pasture with pipelines and pumps, versus high tillage farmers with pivots and crossfencing. It’s yeah, I hear you yeah.

Speaker 3: 35:49
It’s interesting, the biggest thing that’s kind of been pushing our market lately, outside of that carbon and stuff, is just these other opportunities for alternative energy streams from solar. Not too long ago had a conversation with a landowner about wind turbines. There’s a couple of different projects people are trying to bring into the Delta and I told the landowner this it was about a month ago. I said it may come but I don’t think we’ll see it in the next eight to 10 years. And the show house short side that. I was the next day about 24 hours later and I was driving up through Mississippi and a dang near ran off the road. Well, I looked off to my East and saw wind turbines up and I just I thought this was kind of like the you know, the Yeti. You weren’t gonna find him really. He was just going to be talked about for years, but but that’s coming really quick. I just had a meeting last week, so spent a lot of time just consulting with landowners of the last two years. Just like different opportunities from solar, I’ve got a couple solar options in place. Haven’t seen anything bought enough. I have one farm that is so hot. I had eight offers on the one time, five lease options and three purchase options. And because they’re taking several, several oil and coal burning power plants offline across the state, more so in Arkansas is where I’ve had a lot of activity and that’s just been. We’ve spent so much time helping landowners try to navigate some of those hurdles as anything lately and it’s been Interesting, to say the least.

Speaker 1: 37:38
I hear you. Just this year in April I sold a farm ranch on the high Colorado prairie, 15,000 acres that had a new wind lease for development on it. It’s hard. You got to be objective, you got to leave your subjectivity out of it. I personally, George, would prefer that all these wind turbines went into your area and not mine.

Speaker 3: 38:06
Yeah, I’d rather than not, but.

Speaker 1: 38:09
Yeah, and then you and the Californians are the same. They’d say, well, we’d rather they’d be in Colorado, Wyoming and Montana.

Speaker 3: 38:16

Speaker 1: 38:18
Stay away from us. We don’t want them in our backyard, but we want someone.

Speaker 3: 38:22
Yeah, on one hand, I hate to see it the land come out of production and things like that. On the other hand, if you believed in capitalism in the American way, if it’s your land, you do what the hell you want to with it, right?

Speaker 2: 38:36

Speaker 3: 38:36
So that’s kind of so. I’ll just try to help gather the information you know, pass it on to the client and let them kind of choose what’s best for them, because at the end of the day, it’s their property, it’s their legacy, it’s their land, and we can just help them make those decisions.

Speaker 1: 38:56
Yeah, that was the conversation we had. This lease was implemented while we were marketing the ranch and it was a hard decision. Do we, do we encumber the property? And also, is there going to be a diminution of value with these turbines being on there? And after researching the cops and discussing the discounted cash flows and kind of modeling it, looking at it, with the landowner, my seller said, hey, this is a production property, this is not your Kevin Costner beautiful Yellowstone ranch, so this is an income property. We might as well go under contract with this wind lease and it should. It should not affect marketing negatively or the price.

Speaker 3: 39:41
Yeah, some of these properties need some additional you know cash flow coming to them and that’s, you know there’s always it’s funny you got to always balance the you know reality with the opportunity that they bring into you. Cause some of these, some of these land guys are are blowing smoke and so it’s just right. You know you can’t have just got to get down to the facts and really it’s funny that like, oh, you don’t have to worry about looking the lease over, we’ve had a bunch of attorneys look at it.

Speaker 1: 40:12
Yeah, exactly, yeah, Well, George, I know you got to run pretty soon. Any, any final thoughts or words of wisdom about your profession, the accreditation’s ALC, afm, aac, any, uh, any optimism for us or words of hope and inspiration to lead us off?

Speaker 3: 40:37
Well, I probably won’t. It won’t sound like Rocky or anything, but no, you know, I’ve, like, I’ve thoroughly admitted I’m a member of the American Society of Farm Managers and Royal Praisers almost since day one. And that’s not. And that’s where I, you know, through collaboration and working with with people like yourself, had a tremendous opportunity over the years to to partner on projects together, to work with people together and that’s become kind of my professional family as well as a lot of really good friends. And I haven’t been a member of the RLI as long, but that is slowly becoming, you know, my, my people too, I guess you’d say, as far as how we can collaborate and work with each other. But uh, you know, I didn’t. The reason I got my AAC and why I’ve been working on my ALC, you know because I’ve been doing it for 30 years and you kind of feel like you, you, you think you start knowing it all, you feel like you’re finally mature and then then you realize there’s so much more out there. So that’s why I challenged myself a few years ago to kind of you know, quit just taking the continued AAC classes but start taking some of the core education, because I’ve seen a lot of opportunity. I think, with these investor groups, with family transitions, there’s going to be a lot of opportunity where maybe somebody doesn’t want. They don’t just need a management, a full-fledged management contract. I’m going forever but they’ll need us to help consult on specific services. You know whether it’s wind, solar carbon, you know due diligence for acquisitions, maybe it’s capital improvements, and so I think, as as people transition, there’s going to be a lot of opportunity for our profession to grow, and I’m I’m more excited about it now than ever, matter of fact, as, as we’ve seen some little hiccups in commodity markets and things are, there’s a lot of turmoil and some unknowns. I think that’ll give us more opportunity to grow and really be able to show our value to clients around the country. So you know, I don’t remember what was it 10, 15 years ago we started seeing a bunch of new farm managers come in to the business and all of us and I was on the board at the American Society for as a district to VP for a while and we saw this, this spurn of new managers, and I thought well, this will last two or three years. And now it’s been what? 12, 15 years later, we’re still getting a big crop of young professionals coming into the market every year and it’s been exciting to see because for a while we were checking out quicker than we were adding people. Now we’re starting to add people you know and it’s you know. It’s across different areas of the country, it’s women, admin, it’s all backgrounds you know, from just growing up on a farm to coming from more of a. You know more from a business acumen bringing it to our market. It’s been exciting and fun to see how it’s grown in the last few years.

Speaker 1: 43:41
It has. Well, I’ve enjoyed it tremendously and, like you said, the balance of looking at it, looking at it at the, the membership is highly reflective of the industry, where your average farmer is 65 years old. But the last convention, there’s a lot of young families there in Nashville having a good time in their twenties and a lot of young people coming into the business and yeah, thanks for coming on.

Speaker 3: 44:06
Value the value we get from networking in groups like the American Side here, rll. It’s just it’s hard to put a number on it when I was district two VP, you know a few times, you know, when people didn’t want to renew or had to make some phone calls.

Speaker 2: 44:22
I’m like well, I just I can’t, I don’t think it’s worth it. And my.

Speaker 3: 44:26
My statement to them was hell, I can’t afford not to renew the other relationships and the opportunities I’ve had to work with people from, you know, from India and all the way to California and all all between has been untold you know from, from guys that were even some of my instructors. I’ve had opportunities to collaborate and do business with them on some consulting projects, acquisitions, and so it’s it’s fun to see because at the end of the day it’s a small world I can pick up the, pick up the our membership catalogs and, and by calling anybody in there and they’re willing to, you know, at least point me in the right direction. If they don’t have a direct connection to whatever my my question is Absolutely Well, george Baird, professional farm manager, landmark ag capital.

Speaker 1: 45:16
people can find you on LinkedIn.

Speaker 3: 45:19

Speaker 1: 45:19
Where else.

Speaker 3: 45:22
You pick up the phone, call me anytime, not a one, four, eight, three, oh three, seven, three, but yeah just, you’ll usually find me somewhere in my, in my forward, between here and here in the hills.

Speaker 1: 45:35
Checking on one of your 30,000 acres.

Speaker 3: 45:38
Yep, so but yeah, you can go to my website, landmark agnet. I’ve got. It’s some kind of something’s broken in it right now, but I’ll get that going again soon and other than that, look forward to visiting. If anybody ever has any questions about property management, what we do with acquisitions in the Mid-South, I hope to have an opportunity to talk to them.

Speaker 1: 46:01
Please do. Landmark agnet, george Baird. Thanks for coming on, george, thank you for having me.

Speaker 2: 46:07
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Investing in Mississippi Delta Farmland
Land Ownership and Management in Midwest
Changing Farm Management and Agricultural Investments
Farm Management and Professional Networking