New Zealand Eying Delta Cropland Owned by Mormon Affiliate

Remember the high-dollar farm sale in east Arkansas that we told you was in motion last week?

We hear tell that a New Zealand pension fund is taking on four of the five Arkansas farms that are in play, part of a combo transaction valued at about $104 million.

This quartet includes 19,643.9 acres near the Twist community in Cross County, 3,091.9 acres near the Back Gate community in Desha County, 1,106.5 acres near the Algoa community in Jackson County and 403.3 acres near Weiner in Poinsett County.

A leading candidate for the role of buyer is an affiliate of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund.

Founded in 2002, the NZSF is something akin to America’s Social Security. The $16.4 billion sovereign wealth fund pays retirement benefits to qualified Kiwis 65 years and older.

Last year, NZSF allocated $407 million to invest in domestic and overseas farmland. We’re led to believe a chunk of that is now plowed into Arkansas soil.

We understand an in-state investor has the fifth Arkansas farm under contract. That property encompasses 2,910.6 acres near Tuckerman (Jackson County).

The buyer-to-be is David M. Smith, owner of Windmill Rice Co. in Jonesboro. We’re told he’s farmed the acreage for 20 years.

A few miles north of the state line, Missouri interests acquired a sixth farm, 2,082 acres near Neelyville, Mo.

Agri sources tell us this farm sold in the neighborhood of $9.8 million. That’s about $5,000 an acre.

Who sold all this cropland?

Farmland Reserve Inc., an affiliate of the Mormon Church.

Some have indicated Farmland Reserve will roll the sale proceeds into Illinois farmland, in what amounts to a geographic consolidation move.