Would you sell the farm?
Selling farm ground is one of those taboo topics, that no one in agriculture likes to talk about. However, it’s also one of those topics that everyone seems to have an opinion on.
I’m not gonna hide the fact that this article was inspired by the TV show, Yellowstone. In a nutshell, the show is about a sixth generation ranching family that owns and operates the largest contiguous ranch in the United States. It’s a well written, well produced show, that does have a lot of factual mistakes about agriculture… but lets ignore that.
A scenario is set up where the family is offered an above market price to buy the ranch that has been hemorrhaging money the last few year. The patriarch is refusing to sell because of a promise he made his now deceased dad.
I have grown up within the farm culture. I know how sacred owning land is, for both farmers and ranchers. I’m very proud that Emily and I have been able to buy ground on our own. I’m also very proud of the ground that has been in the family for 165 years, and I do look at the two pieces differently.
In Yellowstone, they show a flashback scene where Kevin Costner’s character is sitting by his dying father. The dying man says "don’t let them take it away from you son, not an inch," to which the son agrees.
When I was watching this, I thought to myself… the writer must be a farmer.
There is pressure for a farmer/rancher to at least maintain the home farm. We grow up hearing stories about how our ancestors sacrificed and worked day and night to build this legacy. Often us farm kids saw first hand how our parents had to “do without” in order to not have to sell any ground.
I think everyone in ag has seen people hold on too long. Instead of selling they find themselves surrounded by a city, or instead of selling off some, they get in a situation where they have to sell it all.
As a businessman, I should look at my ground as an asset that needs to make the best rate of return. So, if it makes sense to sell the family farm, then do it! Don’t let tradition or sentiment cloud your judgment.
….that being said….I wouldn’t sell mine just for a better ROI…..
If this makes me a bad business man, so be it. I’m sure there is a scenario where I would sell the home farm, but it would be a last resort.
In the show, Costner’s character states "Leverage is knowing that if someone had all the money in the world, this is what they'd buy." This is how I feel about my home, and I know I’m not alone.