Investment firm Gladstone Land Corp. has raised $45 million in an initial public stock offering and plans to expand farmland acquisitions beyond California and Florida.
The company, which specializes in row crop vegetable and fruit properties, owns 12 farms — 1,631 acres — valued at $75 million in the two states.
The company is seeking properties in Georgia, North Carolina, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington, said David Gladstone, chief executive officer.
The stock is listed on NASDAQ and trades under the symbol LAND. On top of the $45 million raised in the Jan. 28 offering, McLean, Va.-based Gladstone Land plans to borrow $90 million more for land purchases.
The company also plans to hire a California-based acquisitions managing director to handle properties there and in Oregon and Washington.
“Now that we have more money, we’re going to have to staff up pretty substantially,” Gladstone said.
Gladstone, who has a background in the berry industry, sees farmland as a source of stable income and appreciation for shareholders. His first grower tenant was Dole Berry in 2004. Tenants lease on a triple-net basis and cover maintenance, utilities and property related costs.
There are no immediate plans to consider grain, tree or vine properties, but those are a long-term goal.
“Row crops have a lower risk profile,” said Bill Frisbie, principal. “Grains are commodity crops subject to global influences.
“Crops we’re focused on have lower risks than vines and trees because a grower can rotate crops based on market conditions or come back with a new crop next year if he loses this year’s.”
Gladstone tenants have grown strawberries, raspberries, lettuce, cabbage, radicchio, cantaloupes, watermelons, okra, peas and grape tomatoes. Part of the attraction of Michigan, New Jersey and the Pacific Northwest is blueberry production.
Initial contacts often come through growers asking the company to buy an adjacent property and lease it to them, Gladstone said.
“Many farmers, big or small, don’t wish to tie up their capital in owning real estate,” he said. “They make much more putting it to work in growing.”
When land is exchanged for shares, taxes aren’t due until the shares are sold. For properties with multiple owners, that offers a way to avoid disputes between those seeking immediate cash and those satisfied with the shares and dividends, Gladstone said.
“It’s a way for someone to give up a farm without giving up income, because we pay a monthly dividend of 4 cents a share,” he said.