Cover of MoneyWeek magazine issue no 470

Buy a farm

22 January 2010 / Issue 470

The agricultural route to riches...


  • A risky stock that could double your money
  • Will Greece sink the euro?
  • Bill Bonner: Why Japan is my trade of the decade


Back to the land

It wasn’t that long ago that owning a farm seemed a really bad idea. Incomes were low, politicians weren’t interested (who needs farms when you’ve got banks?) and there seemed little prospect of major change.

No longer. Farming is all the rage. It brings status – everyone knows you have to be rich to buy farmland at £7,500 an acre. Owning is now almost compulsory for the smart set, as is having a few expensive-looking rare-breed cows knocking around. The “loveable Longhorn” is the “perfect accessory for the stately pile”, says Country Life magazine.

But farming also very often brings in money. A hill used to be just a hill and a wood just a wood. Now every bit of scrappy woodland is a biomass project; every barren hill a windfarm site (potential income per turbine around £20,000); and every river a mini hydro plant in the making. Better still, the government has suddenly started displaying an interest with mutterings about food security and, for now at least, grain prices are picking up again. Indeed, the only farms that are still losing money by the tractor load are hill farms (which probably always will) and small dairy farms (you need scale to make real money in milk).

Yet even loss-making farms may have their uses…

Read the full editor’s letter here: Back to the land