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High-profile athletes buying U.S. farmland

High-profile athletes buying U.S. farmland

Joe Burrow and others have purchased a 104-acre farm in Iowa

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Some big names in professional sports are purchasing American farmland.

A group including Joe Burrow, quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals, Kevin Gausman, pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays and Milwaukee Bucks guard Khris Middleton have acquired a 104-acre corn and soybean farm in northern Iowa.

Joe Burrow
Joe Burrow.

About 24 players are involved in the farmland acquisition, with each athlete contributing to a fund worth $5 million.

Patricof Co., which helps “world-class professional athletes to source the most attractive alternative investment opportunities and drive superior returns,” is assisting the athletes with the deal.

“We did three investments last year after doing six the year before,” Mark Patricof, founder of Patricof Co., told Front Office Sports. “The market changes. The world changed. Prices didn’t necessarily go down, but valuations should have, so we held back. It was the right time in the cycle to put money into this asset class.”

As owners of the farmland, the group of athletes will lease the land to farmers.

In return, they will receive a “single-digit-percentage annual return on the total investment.”

This opportunity represented a different kind of investment opportunity, Middleton said.

“I was attracted to it because of how different it was. Why farms? But when I looked at the history of returns, especially how U.S. farms have performed over the last 30 years, including during bad times in the economy, the stability is what stood out,” the Sports Business Journal reported.

This initial farm purchase is the first of others to come.

The athletes are committed to buying four more farms in the coming years and have targeted watermelon farms in Oregon.

Data from the United States Department of Agriculture shows the average value of farmland continues to go up.

In 2020, for example, the average value per acre was $3,160. In 2021 that number rose to $3,380 and in 2022 it went up further to $3,800 per acre.

Since 2008, the value of U.S. farmland has dipped twice.

In 2009, the average value was $2,090 per acre after being at $2,170 the year before.

And in 2016, the average price per acre of U.S. farmland was $2,990. In 2015, that number was $3,000 per acre.

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