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Barnes Realty Farmland News JULY-SEPT 2013

THE SIGN OF EXPERIENCE FOR OVER 35 YEARS

ISSUE THREE

The Go-to Realty Company!

Barnes Realty committed to excellent service Barnes Realty’s commitment to providing excellent service and doing the best job possible for its clients has paid off. The company has been selling farmland and recreational property for more than 35 years and has been able to expand from selling in a few Missouri counties to selling throughout the Midwest. Rick Barnes founded Barnes Realty in 1975 after working for another broker for nine years. “The business was started toward the tail end of the great farmland bust of the early 1980s,” he said. “Initially, we sold mostly farmland and recreational properties in Holt, Atchison, Nodaway and Andrew counties in Missouri, but as time passed, oppor tunities presented themselves to allow us to provide our services to a larger and larger geographic area. “Over the years, we’ve become known as the ‘go to’ realty company if you’re interested in buying farmland here in the Midwest.” As the company grew, Barnes realized he needed a faster way to view farmland and to allow clients to better view listings. “We started by using a small air-

plane, but eventually began using a helicopter, which did a much better job for us,” Barnes said. “A couple of years ago we upgraded to the Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter that we are using today. It has proven to be an extremely useful tool in our business by helping us cover a much larger geographic area of the Midwest.” Another way that Barnes Realty has expanded has been by auctioning properties. “Currently, good farmland sells best when offered publicly at auction,” Barnes said. “We don’t wear hats, belt buckles or boots and we don’t chant. Nonetheless, our auction methods have been well received by our attendees because it’s all so easily distinguishable and not hard to understand.” Barnes said farms are sold in a variety of ways. They can be broken down and offered as multiple parcels or kept together as one package. However the land is sold, the company uses a variety of ways to advertise the sale, including Internet sites and old-fashioned regular mail sent directly to property owners. Barnes noted that although many investors are turning to farmland as a way

to make money, good land at a reasonable price is still available. “Even though we all agree that land is selling at an all-time high, it’s our feeling that any astute buyer can watch this land market closely and, over a reasonable period, will surely find a good buy,” Barnes said. “If you’re an investor, don’t be discouraged. Join our email list and we’ll keep you notified of all we are doing. “You never know, we may be offering your next farm and it’s right on our list.” Prospective buyers can see aerial photographs and videos on Barnes Realty’s website barnesrealty.com and its YouTube channel.

18156 Hwy 59 Mound City, MO 64470 660-442-3177 1711 Oregon St Hiawatha, KS 66434 785-741-1900


Kansas Top Agents Roger and LaVonne Aberle

By Janice Kneisley

For 39 years Roger Aberle and his wife and real estate partner LaVonne busily maintained a farm in the Morrill, Kansas area that included raising livestock, planting crops on their land along with raising three children. When they sold the livestock portion of their farm 15 years ago in 1998, Aberle continued to farm by himself, letting go of the hired help. But after the first two years Aberle discovered he was at loose ends with additional time on his hands. “I had extra time on my hands and started looking for some other type of enterprise to do part time, especially during the winter months, I wanted to do something more productive than the coffee shop.” “We explored a number of things and through several events we were led to the real estate business.” As luck would have it, Barnes Realty was just establishing a new satellite office in Hiawatha, Kansas, expanding from their current location in Mound City, Missouri. After several meetings with Jamie Barnes, Aberle decided to attend a weeklong real estate class in Kansas City, but he wasn’t going alone, LaVonne would also take the class. TEAM WORK “They had an opening that June and my wife said ‘If you’re going, I am going too. We have worked together all these years and we are not going to quit now.’ So after a one-week class and taking the real estate exam, both husband and wife became license real estate agents in 2000. In 2002 they went to full time agents for Barnes Realty, licensed in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Aberle’s successful transition from one career to another has much to do with his agriculture background. “For example, I was showing a piece of property to a couple from Florida and they were asking me about the different species of grasses and weeds in the field as we were walking across the pasture and towards the

pond. Luckily with my farming background I could identify them.” He also stays in tune with current market changes and interest rates, subscribing to several internet list serves as well as face to face time with the farming community. That hands on agriculture background gives Aberle an edge when it comes to selling land. LAND EXPERT “I lived thru the ag depression of the 1980’s and it is similar to the depressed housing market that started in 2008. As far as residential, we are just now beginning to make a recovery five year s later. We have had historically low interest rates. In recent months the rates have tweaked a bit according to a lender I track, the rates

have raised a quarter of 1% from May to June, and that will fluctuate on a daily basis but we are still very competitive. I think there’s a danger if we see a rapid escalation of interest rates but most farm buyers have locked in their rates for at least five years. The other thing that we are finding is that most land buyers are not heavily leveraged into the purchase of farmland, they buy with cash and not borrowed money. Commodity prices and good yields and the higher guarantee of revenue have all helped to drive land prices up.” I CAN DO THIS Aberle‘s enthusiasm can be traced back to his first year in real estate sales 13 years ago.

“We had listed a 1,000 acre ranch in SE Kansas and I was given the opportunity to work that sale. The broker, Rick Barnes and his son Jamie and myself went down to tour the ranch and I came away from that initial exposure thinking, ‘I can do this.’ I understood why he had developed the ranch the way he did and thought I can represent this property and do it honestly and do so with accurate information. I had generated five different prospects over several months and Rick went with me for one of the first showings. Afterward Rick said, “You’re on your own, you can do this.’ We ended up selling that piece of property for over $900,000 and that was a very nice way to get my feet wet in the real estate business. And it really excited me about the possibilities that were presented to me by Barnes Realty and giving me the opportunity and the tools they had developed in their 25 years of real estate business and share with me their knowledge and expertise.” ADVICE TO LIVE BY “ I think I have been successful in making people understand that I am for real and we want to do everything right. I was told when I first came into the business from our broker, Rick Barnes that ‘we make enough mistakes by accident, I don’t want you to make any on purpose.’ That has kind of stuck in my mind over the years. I think integrity and honestly is the main thing. We have built a team of people who work well together, and real estate is what we do. We sell property. And we try to devise ways to sell it to generate the highest return for our clients, that who’s we work for.” Thirteen years later, Aberle is still specializing in selling land

(See Aberle, Page 3)


The aging American farmer: Who will work the land next? by Grant Gerlock According to the U.S. Census, the average age of the U.S. farmer is 57, and the fastest growing age group is those over age 65. That demographic shift puts the agriculture industry on the precipice of a transition. Though many farmers are clearly working well into the traditional retirement years, thousands of farms soon will be changing hands. How that occurs could reshape the industry that drives much of the economy in middle America. Working longer Working beyond retirement is a fairly common refrain these days — but farmers seem to work longer than most. In the last Agriculture Census, 25 percent of all farm operators were over age 65 compared with 5 percent of the overall U.S. work force. Why do farmers keep working? For one thing, modern machinery makes it easier to work longer. “It’s more you use your mind rather than your back, so you can go longer,” said Mike Duffy, an agricultural economist at Iowa State University. Duffy said there’s also an economic incentive. Many farmers are making more money today than just about any time in their careers thanks to higher yields and high grain prices. But there’s something else about farmers. In surveys of farmers in Iowa, Duffy has learned that regardless of the money or new technology, some farmers will just never quit. “Farmers are farmers,” Duffy said. “And that’s who they identify themselves as. They’ll leave horizontal.” Bob Hawthorn is that kind of farmer. At 84, Hawthorn’s hands and face are weathered. This year, spring came late, so on a bright April afternoon he was in a hurry to get corn and soybeans planted on

Aberle, from Page 2

including hunting, commercial and residential. LaVonne assists him with staying current on compliances and licensing as well as marketing and showing residential properties. And they still own over 700 acres of land, but lease it all out to three different young farm families.

his 2,000-acre farm in the Loess Hills of western Iowa. Hawthorn braced himself against the wind in the back of his red pickup and unstrung the top of a bag of seed corn. After nearly 60 years on the farm, he said, neighbors ask how long he plans to continue. “They keep bugging me,” Hawthorn said. “They say, ‘When are you gonna quit?’ I think I’ll tell ’em I won’t quit farming till all hell freezes over. Something like that.” The farm was started by his greatgrandfather, Trapper Hawthorn, in the late

1870s. Bob Hawthorn left for a brief career in aerospace before returning to Iowa in 1955 to farm with his father, Fred, who worked on the farm into his 90s and lived to be 98 years old. Longevity runs in the family. But after four generations, the Hawthorn family farm will come to an end. He has had foster children, but he never had biological children and never married. No one is lined up to take over the farm, but then, Hawthorn has no plans to quit, either. “I’d be bored not having anything to do,” Hawthorn said. “I’ve also noticed that farmers, when they retire, buy a house in town and die of a heart attack about in the next year. It seems like farmers have to keep going or they just fade away.” Turmoil in transitions Randy Hertz, a financial planner with Hertz Farm Management, in Nevada, Iowa, says even as the average age of farmers creeps ever upward, few families

The Aberle’s who have been married for 48 years have three children. Their oldest daughter is married to a farmer in the Bern area and is heavily involved in crop and livestock production. Their eldest son lives in central Illinois and is president and CEO of a manufacturing company that employees 150 people,

make all the plans they could for smooth transitions. “It’s pretty ominous the number of farmers that plan to retire in the next five to 10 years,” Hertz said. “Some of them have no plan, and the default succession plan is, well, I guess we’ll just rent it to somebody in the neighborhood.” The 2008 Iowa Farm and Rural Life poll found that 42 percent of farmers surveyed said they planned to retire in the next five years. But Paul Lasley, an Iowa State University sociologist who conducts the poll, said it’s tough to define retirement with farmers. “The retirement process for many farmers may take years, even a decade or so,” Lasley said. “They slowly phase out of farming, and allow their adult children, who are often middle age, to take over, but they remain somewhat involved to ‘make sure the kids do it right.’” That’s how it is working out for the Arganbright family in the western Iowa town of Panora. Jim Arganbright, 83, three years ago started renting his cropland to his son Tom, the only one of his eight children who farms full time. Now, all Jim Arganbright has to worry about is the livestock — and he doesn’t have too much of that. “I only have 12 cows and a bull and eight calves,” he said. Tom Arganbright farms his parents’ 160 acres, several other rented fields and his own farm — in all, about 1,500 acres. He bought some of his acres from one of his uncles. “It’s not just any ground you’re purchasing, it’s part of the original Arganbright land, and it’s up to you to keep hold of it through good times and bad and be able to pass it along to the next See Aging Farmer, Page 4

their youngest son runs a consulting firm in Sabetha and is currently relocating to Haiti to run a hospital that is part of a five year mission project. They have nine grandchildren. You can reach Roger: Email: roger@barnesrealty.com Cell: 785-547-6289


Aging Farmer, from page 3 generation,” Tom Arganbright said. One of his five children currently farms with him. Though Jim Arganbright is no longer farming, he said he has not yet established a formal plan for how ownership of his land will transfer to the next generation, something he knows he ought to do. He expects his children to keep it in the family. Farmers in waiting “We’re not short of young people who want to farm,” said Duffy, at Iowa State. “We’re short of old people who want to move over.” One reason farmers are working long past the age when others might retire is that their golden years turned out to be boom years. “Often they’re the only people that have enough money that they can keep doing it and can keep buying land that comes up for sale,” Rosmann said. The ability to buy land is a big hurdle keeping many young people from entering the agriculture industry as producers. “There’s no way I’ll ever be able to own my own ranch,” said Bo Bigler, 25, a

graduate student at Colorado State University. He’ll graduate at the end of the summer with a master’s degree in beef management. “The price to buy into it, it’s too much,” Bigler said. “The only way that somebody can get into it is if a ranch was handed down to them, unless they’re millionaires to begin with.” A 2011 survey from the National Young Farmers Coalition showed access to land and capital to be the single biggest factors keeping young people from getting into farming or ranching. The results also indicated young people were concerned about the environment and interested in small-scale operations. In Longmont, Colo., Eva Teague, 31, has learned how difficult it can be to start a financially sound pig farm. Teague is a grad school dropout turned farmer, originally from the East Coast. Jaded with academia, she moved to Colorado and began working as a farm apprentice. She bought her first pigs a couple of years ago and now leases 15 acres at the base of the Rocky Mountains.

“Didn’t have that much cash, so I paid for feed with the credit card just to get going,” Teague said. Right now, her biggest challenge, like that of many other young farmers, is access to capital. She recently secured a lowinterest loan from the federal Farm Service Agency, but it’s not enough to get her business off the ground completely. Teague still spends her days on the farm, and every evening working full time as a waitress. Next year she’s taking a big leap, quitting her offfarm job and relying on her farm income to sustain herself. “I think a lot of young people want to work outside in sort of a ‘farm camp’ fun experience,” Teague said. “There are fewer people who would like to work really hard, like 50-60 hours a week for not a lot of money, which is what working on a farm is.”

Grant Gerlock is a reporter for Harvest Public Media, a collaboration of public media stations in the Midwest covering issues of food, fuel and field. For more information and stories, go to HarvestPublicMedia.org.

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