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Idaho’s Vanishing Farmland Follows Idaho’s Vanishing Farmers

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The nation is in the middle of one of the greatest wealth transfers in its history and it will affect Idaho’s agricultural landscape significantly.

Baby boomers own most of the nation’s assets. The majority of Idaho’s aging farmers belong to the boomer generation. As they retire and pass away, their kids are selling the family farms. These agricultural properties either vanish through development or become part of larger farms. Very few persist as small farms.

It starts with the Boomers

Most of the nation’s wealth is held by the baby boomer generation, which makes up a quarter of the population. They own approximately 57% of assets in the United States. The boomers are those aged between 55 and 75 years old. Half have retired and the other half will do so over the next 20 years.

Estimates of these boomer-owned assets vary between $15 and $60 trillion, according to research published in 2019 by the financial management firm Wealth-X. Regardless of the exact numbers, this huge slug of wealth is going to change ownership over the next two decades as the boomers pass on. In fact, the process has already begun.

That’s not exactly new news. The looming great wealth transfer has been covered in the press for some time now. Regardless, there’s a twist to this trend that affects Idaho deeply. That twist involves that icon of rural America: the family farm.

“Given the history of our state, family farms have been a large part of Idaho,” said John Starr from the Colliers International office in Boise. Starr specializes in large land sales, and has represented clients in many transactions like that of the future ShoBan casino site in Mountain Home.

Starr added: “Idaho farmers and ranchers are retiring and many of their kids have moved on to other professions. The family farm or ranch has a lower level of emotional content for them and so, the land gets sold.”

For farms near one of the state’s growing communities, often the land is sold to a developer or to an investment trust.

 

Click here to read the full article from Idaho Business Review.