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|Articles - May 2013|
|Monday, April 29, 2013|
Page 4 of 5
At Farmland’s 1,000-acre Corvallis farm, the sense of passionate engagement on the part of Bradford and his current tenant-farmer partners is palpable. He is slightly professorial, ready to deeply discuss soil fertility, portable henhouse design or the life cycle of lichens, all in the space of two hours. At Farmland, Bradford’s primary role is land management, and he uses Google Earth to demonstrate to his visitor how organizing land rotations is a bit like laying a puzzle, with some pieces functioning as paddocks for nibbling sheep, others as home ground for hundreds of laying hens in their portable henhouses, some lying fallow or growing new pasture grass (and grass seed), and others fostering grain or veggie crops.
Bradford says Oregon was the perfect place for Farmland to start looking for land back in 2009-2010, as the bursting of the housing bubble caused the state’s grass-seed and nursery industries to suffer setbacks (the Corvallis main acreage is a former grass-seed farm).
Part of Farmland’s attraction for investors is the focus on pastured production on a larger scale than what sustainable agriculture has been able to achieve. One of the most famous sustainable farm operations, Joel Salatin’s Polyface farm in Virginia, is 500 acres. One thousand acres is Bradford’s idea of a good start size.
Part of Farmland’s model hinges on finding farmers willing to lease with Farmland LP rather than own their own land. Those farmer-partners the company is now working with insist the deal is a good one. Karen Wells and her husband, Neal, spent four years searching for an Oregon property from which to launch their pastured poultry operation. As Neal was an accountant by trade, the pair was able to realistically run the numbers when assessing prospective land purchases. “We had the ability to do the financial analysis,” Karen says, “but the math never worked.” Karen says her family’s process made the ideal of land ownership less attractive.
“We know too many family farms going under … the next generation is not necessarily interested in farming, there’s a profit problem, etc.,” she says. “Now there are farmers out there saying to us, ‘But you are not going to own the land,’ and I say, ‘Exactly. It’s an albatross.’”
After realizing that farmers like the Wells also need seed money, Bradford and Wichner went back to their investor group and formed a separate LLC called Vitality Farms to invest in both livestock and product innovation on Farmland acreage.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY JOE ROJAS-BURKE | OB BLOGGER
The medical research enterprise wastes tens of billions of dollars a year on irrelevant studies. It’s time to fix it.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Our 100 Best Companies project turned 21 this year, so pop open the Champagne. Our latest survey gives us plenty to cheer.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER
A blueberry bush is a blueberry bush — except when it’s a blueberry tree.
Monday, March 03, 2014
Check out interviews with employees from some of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon winners and find out what makes their company a great place to work.
Tuesday, April 08, 2014
BY HANNAH WALLACE | OB BLOGGER
It may be obvious, but most farmers don’t make a lot of money. According to preliminary data from the 2012 Agriculture Census, 52% of America’s 2.1 million principal farm-operators don’t call farming their primary occupation. Farm cooperatives may offer a solution.
Tuesday, April 01, 2014
BY APRIL STREETER | OB CONTRIBUTOR
Three years ago, PPS set out to begin to convert the 1930s-era boilers from diesel/bunker fuel to cleaner-burning natural gas. Oregon’s largest school district has realized impressive carbon dioxide emissions reductions, setting an example for public and private institutions.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY | OB WEB EDITOR
Watch this OB Original Video about three Oregon companies and how crowd-funding "kickstarted" their business ideas.
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