For the third consecutive year, Apple tops the list of most innovative companies.
Demand for Land Sows Seeds for Growth
The private holdings of the top landowners have grown nearly 20 percent over the last five years, according to a new survey. Total acreage owned by the 100 largest private landowners is up by 18.6 percent over the past five years, from 27.2 million acres in 2007 to 32.3 million in 2012.
The spike in agricultural land ownership coincides with a jump in land prices. After taking a slight dip during the recession, agricultural land values have risen to double average values from a decade ago. Overall, farmland values have surged 31 percent in the last year in Nebraska. Illinois farmland climbed in value nearly 21 percent, a rate over three times the previous annual increase in land values over the last 40 years, and almost twice the 12 percent jump during the run-up in values between 2005 and 2011.
The trend has boosted the value of American farms. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a 6.8 percent rise in the farm sector's net worth in 2011, largely because of an increase in real estate values. At the same time net farm income nationally jumped nearly 20 percent, eclipsing $94.7 billion last year, despite higher production costs. This past summer's drought damaged some crops and pushed some produce prices higher, but the weather had no effect on the spike in farmland prices.
Brent Gloy, director of Purdue University's Commercial Agriculture Center, attributes higher farmland demand to growing world incomes, increased use of food crops for biofuels, low interest rates and a weaker U.S. dollar.
The demand for farmland also points to the growing hunger for American farm products worldwide. About 26 percent of the country's soybeans went to China in 2010, compared to 12 percent just five years before.