The food desert is that stretch of town or region where no grocery stores are operating, forcing residents into leaving the area to shop for basics, or worse, subsist on junk food for lack of better choices. In social and health terms, food deserts are a serious problem, but in economic terms they can represent commercial real estate opportunity. CRE investors seeking to profit from filling local needs can do much worse than finding highly populated areas that are underserved by grocery stores. These areas cry out for the development of food stores to fill the gap. Tools to find these areas are very helpful for acquisition and site selection – but where can one find these tools?
The role that agriculture plays in the US economy is enormous, owing in part to the fact that the US is by far the largest exporter of ag products. As a critical sector in commercial real estate, agriculture receives a great deal of attention from federal government econometric researchers, which gives ag land investors and market watchers a wide range of data to use. But what are the leading indicators (predictive of future price moves) and what are the trailing indicators (numbers that follow motion in other numbers)? What’s cause and what’s effect in this marketplace?
As if to answer the question by trying to answer *any and all* questions under the topic’s umbrella, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) publishes a mountain of data concerning the agricultural land market, and it’s available for free.
Beginning with the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s publication, Land Values 2015 Summary , investors can learn recent histories in farm land value by state, broken down by irrigaged and non-irrigated land as well as by a host of other types.
It’s a great starting point to explore the relationships between land prices and the prices of agricultural products, as well as the phenomena of inflation, agricultural land speculation and interest rate policy as they apply to this giant sector of the national commercial land market.
RLI Educational Tracks Are Available
The REALTORS Land Institute (RLI) is ready to help professionals navigate the ins and outs of the agricultural land marketplace with continuing education and conferences focusing on this sector, including the upcoming National Land Conference in Dallas, March 11. Learn more at RLILand.com
The USDA’s semi-annual survey on the state of farm finances, called the Agricultural Resource and Management Survey (ARMS) is “the only national survey that annually produces observations on field-level farm practices, the economics of the farm operating the field, and the characteristics of farm operators and their households”. This year’s ARMS look at the economics of farm operations is showing a race between rented and purchased land prices, both rising, but one lagging the other significantly.