Impact Profile: Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT
Since 2006, Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT has served small, family-owned organic farming enterprises by helping them grow their businesses, while supporting the growth and impact of the organic movement. The aim has been to increase the availability of nutritious organic foods while working to support long term soil health. As cofounder and CEO David Miller has said,” We want to help organic farmers provide an answer to the dead soil mono culture across the U.S.”
Currently, IVF works with 42 farm families and enterprises in fourteen states, with the largest number being in Midwest states like Illinois and Indiana. Iroquois Valley Farmland has more than 12,000 acres in those states, with over two-thirds of that land being certified organic and the remaining one-third in transition to being certified organic. There are 58 IVF farms in all, including farms that produce grains, dairy, livestock, and vegetables—as well as a permaculture training farm in Minnesota. Historically, IVF has purchased farmland selected by individual farmers and then leased it back to those farmers.
A significant majority of IVF farms (39 farms in all) have been purchased and leased to farmers in this manner. But in the last few years, IVF has opened a new line of business that has significantly increased their overall impact and geographic diversity: providing mortgage refinancing for organic farmers.
Many current owners of organic farms began approaching Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT because they needed to consolidate debt, reduce their monthly payments, and reduce overall interest costs. Demand quickly increased for these services and has grown so much that 30% of IVF’s assets are currently deployed in nineteen such mortgages. This new line of business predominantly helps more experienced, veteran organic farmers to stabilize and improve their cash flow and balance sheets, while IVF has benefited from increased income and lower overall business risk.
The mortgage refinancing business also has allowed IVF to expand its impact to several new states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. These states have laws that prohibit the ownership of farmland by corporations. While IVF has had friends and contacts in these states for many years, it had not been able to offer leases to organic farmers in these states because it is a corporation and therefore cannot own land in those states. But the new mortgage refinancing line of business paved the way for IVF to help organic farmers in these states and enlarge the geographic footprint of organic agriculture.
The future looks especially bright for Iroquois Valley Farmland after the company filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a Direct Public Offering that will allow non-accredited investors to invest in IVF stock with a minimum investment of about $10,000. In the past, IVF offerings by law have had to be limited to investors with an investable net worth of more than a million dollars. Natural Investments advisors are poised to work with interested clients when this new offering goes live.