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Our Connection to the Land

This interview is also available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

“What connects us all is somehow the land,” Dr. Bruce Sherrick told American Farmland Owner as he thought about his 35-year career and commitment to maximize the potential of the land and align crop insurance programs with agriculture, economic and environmental policies.

BIOGRAPHY: Dr. Bruce Sherrick is the Marjorie and Jerry Fruin Professor of Land Economics and Director of the TIAA Center for Farmland Research in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois. He also serves on the board of Leading Harvest and formerly served on the board of Farmer Mac.

Although, Sherrick’s career is not just 35 years in academia, policy and research.

“I grew up on a farm,” Sherrick said.  

That lifetime love for the land and its importance to everyone’s future helps to nourish one of his greatest passions: learning.

“We’re all going to eat. We’re all going to live somewhere. We’re all going to consume. We’re all going to be participants on the planet,” said Sherrick.

Part of his professional mission statement includes these concepts:

“Dr. Sherrick helps make crop insurance programs work better for crop producers across the United States.”

“He helps build information systems for agricultural asset markets that utilize big data and novel computational strategies to better understand farmland values.”

Sherrick’s research over the past year has reinforced the importance of what he has termed the “Three I’s.”

“Most people would think that the ‘Three I’s’ are Illinois, Indiana and Iowa,” Sherrick explained, “That’s kind of the epicenter of agriculture. We usually think about whatever happens in that middle part of the country washes out over the rest of the country or it’s the amoeba that moves out across the country.”

And while those three states are a critical driver of the country’s agricultural success, they aren’t the “I’s” in his analogy.

“But I think the new ‘Three I’s’ right now in agriculture are really inflation, income and interest rates.  I think understanding those three major issues, especially in today’s macroenvironment, really are the critical parts.”

Inflation drives up costs for landowners. Although, in the overall financial picture, land values continued to outpace inflation over the past year. Income is still strong for most producers. It just may not match last year’s unusually high incomes. And interest rates will continue to be a weighted pressure on borrowing costs, especially for young or new investors. But, again, the increase in land values has largely overcome the higher interest rates of the past two years.

One factor that challenges landowners to continue a long-term view of their assets, Sherrick conceded, is a 24-hour news cycle that provides a constant stream of information that can test patience.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (impact on fertilizer supplies), trade war tariffs during the Trump administration (reduced export potential for American producers), pandemic supply chain disruptions (limited materials and increased input costs), along with changing weather patterns test the mental and emotional day-to-day behavior of farmland owners.

“What does all that mean to the asset class?” Sherrick said. That question means more phone calls, texts and emails asking him to explain what’s happening in the world.

“I think the interest in and requests for instant analysis,” he said, “have really gone up.”

Stay the course.

WATCH: See the full video interview with Dr. Bruce Sherrick here.  

NOTE: Dr. Bruce Sherrick will be a keynote speaker where he will discuss his “Three I’s” and the outlook for farmland values at the 17th Annual Land Investment Expo in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, on January 9th, 2024.


To check out the full list of speakers, unique experiences and to register, click here. 


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