Jim Rogers, famed former partner of George Soros, is the agricultural commodity bull to end all bulls right now, it seems — but he’s often been right. And along with many other folks who are prominent in the investing punditocracy (including Rick Rule, Dennis Gartman, and Marc Faber, among many more), he’s recommending agriculture and agricultural commodities as the best investment (or at least, one of the best) you can make right now.
Rogers is more colorful in his predictions than most, of course, going so far as to comment from time to time that we should all learn to farm, and that the farm boys of the midwest will be the only ones buying BMWs in the decades to come (or something to that effect). You might remember that he has also said that all children should learn Mandarin, and that ambitious young people should move to China (he moved to Singapore).
And the agriculture investment story is not a new one — the last couple years saw a bubble building in farmland, and most obviously in the fertilizer stocks, as the world demand for grains shot through the roof on the back of the twin engines of biofuel and emerging markets diet changes. Biofuel is not as hot a story now as it was, though ethanol and biodiesel are still big business, but the growing middle class in the emerging world (in addition to the rising population) is still expected to cause increasing demand for grains not only because there are more mouths to feed, but because meat consumption is growing and more meat production requires more and more corn and soybeans.
There are a lot of ways to buy into the agriculture business — you can buy farmland directly, which tends to move in pretty big cycles, or get in on one of the big unlisted farmland partnerships that are very illiquid, you can buy companies that own land, you can become a farmer yourself, or you can supply goods and services to farmers or buy stock in companies that do that — equipment, seeds, fertilizer, transportation and marketing, etc. Jim Rogers is specifically buying land, through a couple of investment funds (the kind that are for big investors, closed to you and me). Faber, to be fair, has warned against buying farmland because of the lack of new productivity gains to be ...