I started FarmlandFinder because of the challenges I saw and experienced growing up on a fifth generation family dairy farm in rural Iowa. I wanted to share with you some of those experiences, because they have shaped the foundation of what we’re building at FarmlandFinder.
Reason #1: My own family’s struggle to acquire land
When I was a kid, our family milked 80 cows. Today, we milk 600. For as long as I can remember, my family has been looking to acquire more land so that we could feed our growing herd. I remember several instances when land sold at auction, but we couldn’t afford it. Or even worse; when our neighbor’s land sold, but we didn’t even know it was for sale until it was too late.
There is no comprehensive source for farmland sales and listings, like there is for residential real estate. Most land is sold by word of mouth, a sign on the road, or just plain being in the right place at the right time.
Reason #2: Choosing to buy land is a significant financial decision
In the summer of 2015, I attended a farmland auction at the town hall in my home town of Ocheyedan, Iowa. The room was filled with farmers, bankers and landowners. An auctioneer held up a blown up picture of the property, which he had taken from the side of the road, and shared a few basic facts of the property, then opened the bidding.
Farmers started bidding, getting red in the face and talking hurriedly with their banker at each bid. There was also a land investor in the back of the room whose poker face seemed a stark contrast to the farmers in the front of the room. He appeared to be quite calm as he quietly wrote down each bid, ran the numbers and raised his hand when it suited him.
At that moment, I realized the motivations and emotions that come from buying farmland can be drastically different. For some, this was the largest and most important purchase of their lives. For others, it was simply a numbers game. But what both groups shared in common was the fact that they lacked access to detailed, quality data to help them make the best decision.
Reason #3: Selling land is difficult and often an emotional decision
Earlier this year, my dad called to tell me that the family dairy was in a crunch.
Times were tight and he told me their only options were to sell some cattle or sell some land. The fact that he was even talking about selling our land was a serious moment.
When it comes to farmland, the reality is this: selling land is a difficult and emotional decision. Often we’re driven to sell land when times are tight on the farm, the operation is restructuring, or someone has passed away. Frequently, there are limited options and long delays when trying to sell one’s land — which can be particularly stressful when the decision is so deeply personal.
Why FarmlandFinder Exists
There are a lot of statistics, demographics and numbers that support why the time is right for a data-driven platform to increase access, transparency, and efficiency in the farmland real estate market.
I founded FarmlandFinder because of my own deeply personal experiences. I wish the solutions FarmlandFinder provides had existed when my family was facing these tough moments. It’s these stories and the lessons from them that are embedded in our vision, values and product.
FarmlandFinder exists because our land and the people who steward it deserve the best resources, technologies and opportunities. The land is our heritage, our livelihood and our foundation for the future. If you want to build a better future for the hardworking people who care for our land, come work with us… we’d love to have you.
This article originally appeared on Medium on December 1 ,2019. To view, visit https://medium.com/farmlandfinder/why-i-started-farmlandfinder-dbda433aa7ea.