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Rush to purchase farmland in California’s Imperial Valley

Imperial Valley

Imperial Valley

Mexican agricultural workers cultivate romaine lettuce and other crops in California’s fertile Imperial Valley.

Thousands of Mexican workers cross the border legally before sunrise from Mexicali, Mexico into Calexico, CA, where they pick up work as agricultural day laborers in California’s fertile Imperial Valley. Although the Imperial Valley, irrigated from water diverted from the Colorado River, is one of the most productive agricultural areas in the United States, it has one of the highest unemployment rates in California, at more than 20%.

The Mexican farm workers earn about $9 an hour, which seems to be too low to attract local U.S. residents.

Farm land investments are starting to gain momentum as different businesses decide to invest due to the recent agriculture industry slump which drove land prices down.

Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equities Fund or TIAA- CREF have raised a $3 billion funds for their second farmland investment business which is five hundred million more than what they expected! TIAA-CREF will use the fund in investing to North, South America and Australia. They also have commitments with the inventors such as Mexico State Investment Council and United Kingdom’s Greater Manchester Pension Fund.

TIAA-CREF has a solid track record with their investing record in farmlands which started in 2007. They now manage more than $5 billion in farmland assets world-wide. A new partnership made in the first quarter of the year has already raised $2 billion.

Homestead Capital USA LLC, a private-investment partnership led by former executives at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., joined the rush to farmland investment fund after raising $173 million. Two of the major investors are University of Alabama and the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.

According to National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries, America’s farmland capital values stepped up with an average of 4.6% annually since 1990 – not a bad return on investments.

Paul Pittman, chief executive of Farmland Partners and a former investment banker, said that farmland industry can definitely bring profits but that “Farmland is the tortoise in a tortoise and hare race.”

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