Ranch or Farm: The Key Differences You Should Know

by Caroline Kirby

When looking at land to purchase, you have many options and being familiar with the different uses of the land is essential to making the right choice.
One of the most common confusions when it comes to land use is the difference between ranches and farms. Here’s a breakdown of the key differences so that you can look for the land that fits your needs.

Ranch or Farm: What’s the Difference?

Many people use the terms ranch and farm interchangeably, but they’re not the same. While both are typically large plots of land with an agricultural aspect, they do have some specific distinctions.
Some would say that all ranches are farms, but not all farms are ranches. Both generally produce a variety of food or other materials and can come in different forms, but let’s get into the main differences.
Farms are usually smaller than ranches and those who operate farms put time towards maintaining each acre of their land so that it will produce quality crops. Farm use varies across regions and can host different animals, crops, or both. Here are some of the common types of farms:

• Commercial
• Livestock
• Poultry
• Horse
• Dairy
• Arable (crops)
• Mixed (animals and crops)

Whether you’re looking for land to use as a farm to retire on and tend to as a hobby, or you want to expand an existing farming operation, you have many options! Depending on the size and location of your farm, you may even be able to implement extra opportunities to generate extra income. Many farm owners use their property as bed and breakfast, for photoshoots, weddings, or even as a campsite.

While purchasing a farm is a huge investment, when managed properly, you could have a huge return.

On the other hand, ranches are recognized as a specific type of farm. Ranches are big farms on which a majority of the products produced are animals, most being cattle and livestock. Ranches do come in all sizes but are for the most part pretty big.

Curious about raising livestock? A majority of cattle ranches raise beef cattle and involve various ranching activities, such as:

• Moving pastures from one pasture to the other
• Looking after the animals
• Buying and selling animals
• Inspecting, maintaining, and repairing property structures (like fences)

Additionally, with the rise of activities like glamping and the desire to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, many ranches are opening up their extra space to paid visitors. Dude ranches are another popular option that allows guests to visit the ranch and see what life is like and what the job entails. Sometimes visitors even help out with the chores!

While many differences do exist between the two types of land it’s safe to say that neither generates passive income. No matter the route you choose to take with your ranch or farm, it will be a large investment that requires a lot of work. You can browse hundreds of available properties across the U.S. right here on LandHub.com!

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by Caroline Kirby

Owning and managing a ranch or farm is undoubtedly a rewarding experience. Apart from enjoying wide open spaces, the outdoors, and the simplicity of rural life it’s a great opportunity to invest your money in something safe.

Ranch lands appreciate at a higher rate and can even bring in profits from the products and/or livestock raised on the land. Whether you’re looking into buying new ranch land or for ways to improve your existing property, read on for more tips.

Long-time ranchers and newcomers alike will appreciate the following topic—choosing the right fencing for your property. While those without experience may think fences are purely decorative they actually play many roles in the function of your ranch land.

Why Fences Are So Important

Are you a ranching veteran? Feel free to skip to the next section. The following information is helpful for those looking to break into ranching.

Fences play an essential part of successful farming and ranching for many reasons, like:

• Defining your property lines.
• Containing your animals and keeping other animals out.
• Discourage thieves and trespassers from entering your property.
• Manage property more easily by separating production zones.
• Comply with local zoning laws and legal regulations.
• Add aesthetic value and definition to your agricultural spaces.

Now that you can understand why fencing is so important to a successful ranching operation let’s take a look at your options. The type of fence you choose will largely depend on your specific needs. Here are the most common fence types for farms and ranches:

1. Barbed Wire

a farm fencing classic that is great for confining cattle but won’t keep other animals out of your fields. The downside? Some areas forbid the use of barbed wire and it’s not the most attractive option.

2. Wooden Fence

a popular choice thanks to its’ decorative value, long life span, and ability to create a sense of privacy around a property. Wooden fences are great for separating large cattle and preventing your animals from getting distracted or spooked, but will require regular maintenance like staining and painting every few years.

3. Chain Link

if your land seems to have problems with people wandering into unsafe areas (like electrical units) this may be a good addition to your land. Chain link fences are reliable and sturdy, but notoriously difficult to climb. Many ranchers use them to define dangerous areas around the property.

4. PVC Fence

these synthetic fences are growing in popularity because they’re easily seen, attractive, and usually have a lifetime guarantee against rotting, rusting, or peeling among other things. You can also find types of PVC fences with an electric guard to isolate aggressive animals or keep trespassers out. Others are specifically designed to be flexible upon impact which can decrease the chances of injury to your livestock.

Depending on the size of your property, the cattle, and the functions of your land you may choose one or even a mix of some of the above fence types. Whatever you choose in the end should be decided with optimizing your land in mind.

If you’re looking for more resources head over to our blog. 85% of land buyers look online first and LandHub has made it easy to search or sell by giving you the freedom to review land listings by price, property type, and location.

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The American Society of Farm Managers & Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA) has released their 2019 Mid-South Land Values and Lease Trends Report, and with it, a wealth of information that can help guide agricultural land purchases in regions across Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

So what is there to learn from the report? Here are four of the biggest takeaways.

#1: Quality Midsouth farmland continues to be limited

One of the biggest problems facing Midsouth agricultural land investors is that large-scale, quality plots — think 1,000 to 3,000 acres — have been hard to come by. Institutional investors have, for the most part, replaced individual investors and farmers in the purchase of investment-grade Midsouth farmland, notes W. Stacey Gillison, Current Midsouth Chapter President. This is due in part to the increased risk of land flipping driven by trade wars, rising interest rates, and stagnant land value levels. While it doesn’t mean that sales have come to a halt, it does mean that “the Delta flipping days are over,” Gillison says.

#2: The 2018 Farm Bill was good news for Midsouth farmland

The 2018 Farm Bill “could help insulate Midsouth farmland prices,” according to the report. This is thanks to a number of safety nets provided by the bill, including maintenance of the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs — both of which were holdovers from the 2014 Farm Bill. There are still some issues to contend with (most notably shifts in agricultural trade policy), but as the report states, “there are reasons to be optimistic that farmland valuations could hold firm in the year ahead.”

#3: In Arkansas? You may want to invest in grain land

Local and institutional investors in Arkansas — and in particular in Arkansas Region 2, which consist of the northeast counties in the state — are encouraged to invest in grain. That’s because, as the report notes, the poultry industry in the area is expanding, and with it, the need for grain feed. A “significant portion” of this grain is purchased locally,” the report says, which means big things ahead not just for the crop itself but the land that’s used to grow it.

#4: Timber is on the up and up, but not all Midsouth states are ready for it

In a piece included in the report titled “The Future of Forestry in the South,” Tedrick Ratcliff, executive vice president of the Mississippi Forestry Association, writes that there’s a growing need for mass timber production in the region due to increases in wood construction and advancements in wood-building technology. And while that’s good news for forest investors, some states have yet to rebound from the hit of the recession on their timber infrastructures — Mississippi in particular. That means issues meeting demand, but also opportunity for investors looking to get into the game.

Overall, the 2019 report had many messages of hope. Not much has changed in terms of land values and lease trends in the past year, and that’s actually a good thing — stagnancy is always preferable to declines, especially when it comes to agriculture. As the U.S. economy grows, so too should the agricultural sector, Gillison says. So what should investors do now? “Batten down the hatches,” he says, “and try to persevere through the trade negotiations.”

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