In an era of skyrocketing prices for farmland, a handful of farmers and investors is spearheading an effort to help no-tillers expand their own operations.
Fall Line Farms is offering to become capital partners for no-tillers who don't have the resources to buy farmland – either because of current prices are economically unfeasible, or because the farmers are already highly leveraged on what they've purchased, but still need to grow.
The group plans to lease land to top no-tillers or buy land from owners who care about soil stewardship.
"If there is land in their neighborhood that they'd like to farm, we will buy it specifically to rent to them," says Mitchell, who no-tills 2,500 acres of corn and soybeans in northeast Iowa. "And we could also support with technology and agronomy advice."
Scott Day, a Canadian no-tiller and one of four founding members, made the effort public Thursday during the 20th annual National No-Tillage Conference, being held Jan. 11 to 14 in St. Louis, Mo.
The team at FLF includes:
- Clay Mitchell, a fifth-generation no-tiller and renowned expert in precision-farming technology;
- Scott Day, a fifth-generation no-tiller from Manitoba and professional agronomist;
- Laurence Trebesch, who comes from a fifth-generation farm, ranch and ag-finance family in Idaho and Montana;
- Eric O’Brien, a former managing director for Lightspeed Venture Partners with 13 years of professional investment experience in the U.S. and internationally.
Baptiste Tellier has joined the firm as an intern, having previously worked as a farm manager for an international farming and food company with farming experience in North and South America, Europe and Africa.
Mitchell tells No-Till Farmer that this effort is about investing in no-till and family farmers.
"The marketplace currently doesn't reward guys who no-till, and with half of the topsoil in this country gone, the land that will be valuable in the future is land that's no-tilled," he says. "I believe in that enough to put all my money on the line and have communicated it well enough to get other resources willing to make the same commitment."
More details about the company's plans will appear in the March 2012 edition of No-Till Farmer.
Editor's Note: This article has been corrected from its original publication to more accurately reflect the roles of team members of Fall Line Farms.