Farmland could be the next big asset class modernized by marketplace startups

Farmland could be the next big asset class modernized by marketplace startups

Jim Jackson built timber and farms in East Washington, protected from coastal rains by the summit of Mount Cascade, and pruned apple farms and other properties in sunny parts of the state for 40 years. Traditionally, he raised money to expand operations for his farms through his existing network, which called on previous investors to join and pay in cash.

Recently, however, Jackson has become a fundraising platform that operates entirely online. Like hundreds of other farmers, he is using a service called AcreTrader to raise money for agricultural development projects.

AcreTrader is one of the growing companies, which is a means of acquiring, developing and commercializing farms and forests across the United States. In the United States, Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft and the third richest man in the world, is the largest owner of about 242,000 acres of land. 

This number seems high until you compare it to 897.4 million acres of land that is currently arable and used for agriculture in the United States. There are another 823 million acres of forest in the United States, most of which are privately owned.

Taken together, this is an abundance of economically viable real estate that traditionally has been accessible only hyper-health for acquisition and financing for development. Now, startups like FarmTogether ($3.7 million) and Harvest Returns, including AcreTrader and Tillable, ($8.3 million), are bringing market models to the world of agriculture – potentially looking to diversify thousands of acres of financing.

Jim Jackson built timber and farms in East Washington, protected from coastal rains by the summit of Mount Cascade, and pruned apple farms and other properties in sunny parts of the state for 40 years. Recently, however, Jackson has become a fundraising platform that operates entirely online. Like hundreds of other farmers, he is using a service called AcreTrader to raise money for agricultural development projects. AcreTrader is one of the growing companies, which is a means of acquiring, developing and commercializing farms and forests across the United States.

Now, startups like FarmTogether ($3.7 million) and Harvest Returns, including AcreTrader and Tillable, ($8.3 million), are bringing market models to the world of agriculture – potentially looking to diversify thousands of acres of financing.

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