Tag Archives: Nebraska

Farmers and ranchers love accumulating assets, land in particular, but when markets are down and the outlook uncertain, sometimes there comes a point when it’s time to see if you can cash out and move on.

That’s the story behind Nebraska’s most expensive farm real estate listing. Anthony Zeman of Bassett, Nebraska, is asking $34 million for his irrigated crop and beef operation in the north-central Sandhills — $20 million more than the next highest value property on the market.

The 59-year-old beef producer spent 14 years accumulating and improving 10,343 acres of farm and ranchland, which includes 44 center pivots on 5,640 acres. On the remaining 4,700 acres, Zeman currently runs 2,300 cow/calf pairs and has a 2,500-head open-air feeding facility with 3,600 linear feet of concrete bunks and 24 feeding pens.

Irrigated corn yields average 180 to 230 bushels per acre and soybean yields average 60 to 70 bpa. Alfalfa ground produces about 7 tons per acre with four to five cuttings per season. The operation has 51 registered irrigation wells and four stock wells, and none of them are subject to water restrictions or pumping limits on the irrigation units.

“We’ve had a lot of interest. An operation this unique and large doesn’t come up for sale very often,” said Tom Metzger with Hall and Hall, an agricultural brokerage and mortgage firm handling the sale. “The seller wants to sell it all together and not split it up. However, if we find a couple of buyers with different interests, we could divide the farm, but we want to close the sale at one time.”

Hall and Hall listed the ranch for sale in early April.

Metzger said Zeman’s sons don’t want to be involved with the ranch long term, and Zeman wants to slow down, quit working so hard, reduce risk and enjoy life more.

A recent report from Farmers National Company finds there’s less land on the market — particularly high-quality farmland — than usual. Yet, after steady declines in farm income and rising interest rates, concern is growing that the farmland market may not be able to maintain its stability.

“Individual landowners and investors are both scratching their heads as to the current land market and where it might go,” the report states. “It is as if there are two land markets: one that says it is a good time to sell and one that indicates that it is time to invest in land.”

The report finds land values in the Southern Plains range from stable to down 10% compared to last year, with the variances occurring in quality and location.

Paul Schadegg, a Farmers’ National sales manager for the region, said there’s a mix of sellers in the market, but the most common type of seller is similar to the Zemans, selling to either retire or settle an estate. He expects a rising number of distressed farm sales later this year.

Zeman’s asking price — at $34 million — is stratospheric compared to other ranches on the market. There are only about six other Nebraska farm and ranch listings that currently top $10 million, according to www.landsofamerica.com, an online database of rural property listings. There are another handful of Nebraska farm and ranch listings in the $6.5 million range, and those tend to be large grass and hunting ranches.

In Kansas, only three large ranches are listed for more than $10 million, topping out at $16.8 million, in Sharon Springs, Comanche and Morrowville.

South Dakota has six ranches for sale with price tags above $10 million. The most expensive is listed at $55.6 million for 3,800 deeded acres in Buffalo, with additional grazing permit land. An irrigated ranch near Mission with 5,583 acres is asking $32.9 million.

Expensive ranches are not unusual in the mountain west. Montana has 53 ranch listings costing more than $10 million. And, if you’re not out of spare change yet, there is a 56,000-acre ranch in Routt County, Colorado (county seat: Steamboat Springs) that can be yours for $100 million.

During the month of October, the Nebraska Corn Board hosted two trade missions which consisted of major U.S. corn buyers from Mexico and Saudi Arabia. The trade teams met with Nebraska farmers, suppliers and exporters of corn and corn co-products to better understand U.S. corn production, marketing and exporting logistics. The visits were coordinated in collaboration with the U.S. Grains Council, which works to develop export markets for U.S. agricultural products, such as corn, distiller’s dried grains with soluables (DDGS) and ethanol.

“American farmers have sustainably been growing quality agricultural products for generations,” said David Bruntz, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and farmer from Friend. “With 95 percent of the world’s population living outside of the United States, we must develop and maintain positive trade agreements with our global customers. By inviting these customers to the U.S., we’re able to help them understand our supply chain, so they’ll feel more confident doing business with American farmers. This undeniably has an economic value to our state and our country, but we’re also helping provide feed, fuel and fiber to the world.”

While in Nebraska, the Mexican grain buyers met with local corn farmers, Aurora Cooperative and Gavilon to better understand the U.S. value chain of white corn to Mexico from harvest to shipping. Nebraska is the largest white corn producing state in the country, and Mexico has historically been the largest importer of U.S. white corn. From Nebraska, the group further explored the American white corn industry through stops in Missouri and Kentucky.

Both trade missions, from Mexico and Saudi Arabia, represented only two of 21 international teams that were in the U.S. in October. The 21 teams consisted of more than 200 grain buyers who participated In Export Exchange, a bi-yearly event sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council, Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy. This year’s Export Exchange took place Oct. 22 through Oct. 24 in Minneapolis. The purpose of the event was to connect global grain buyers to over 300 domestic suppliers.

While the Mexican team visited Nebraska to learn about the white corn supply chain prior to Export Exchange, the grain buyers from Saudi Arabia came to Nebraska after the event concluded.

Saudi Arabia is the eighth largest overseas importer of U.S. corn, importing 3.7 million metric tons in market year 2017/2018, and is the second largest buyer of U.S. sorghum, importing 280 thousand metric tons during the 2017/2018 market year. The imported commodities are frequently used in dairies, feed and poultry companies.

While in Nebraska, the Saudi Arabian team visited the farms of Steve Wellman, director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, and Don Bloss, past chairman of the National Sorghum Producers. As major feed grain buyers, this team wanted to better familiarize themselves with U.S. corn and sorghum production. In addition to visiting Nebraska corn and sorghum farms, they visited Farmers’ Cooperative in Beatrice, the Aurora Cooperative corporate office and Pacific Ethanol, both in Aurora, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“We really had several great conversations with both teams over the last several weeks,” said Roger Berry, director of market development with the Nebraska Corn Board. “Our governments may not always see eye-to-eye, but these customers are so eager to learn more about U.S. agriculture. They want to be partners with American farmers in helping to meet the growing demands of their people, which is a major reason we host these trade teams. We have products to sell and we want to be able to show the world that U.S. agriculture is open for business.”

The Nebraska Corn Board partnered with the U.S. Grains Council to coordinate the missions. The U.S. Grains Council works in more than 50 countries and the European Union to market U.S. grains and their related products to build long-term demand from loyal customers. This work is also supported by funding from the USDA through the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program in the U.S. farm bill.