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Hog Wild Debate over Poisoning Feral Hogs

Kasey Mock - 3/2/17

One thing we can all agree on is that Texas has a feral hog problem! What Texas hunters, farmers and ranchers can’t always agree on is how to control them. This has recently come to a head with the approval of a poison to kill feral hogs by Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Sid Miller.

Almost 6 years since Texas passed a bill to allow feral hogs to be shot by licensed hunters from helicopters, feral hog populations are still on the rise costing the agriculture industry up to 50 million dollars a year in damages. Feral hog populations can multiply by 18-20 percent per year, making this a constant battle for landowners. The idea behind the “helicopter bill” was to shift the expense from the landowner to recreational shooters who would pay for the helicopter experience to kill off the hogs. Thus getting rid of your hogs for free.

Since 2011, the feral hog problem in Texas has reached its highest levels with an estimated 2.5 million animals. Agricultural Commissioner and helicopter bill approver Sid Miller announced that he is approving a new strategy to deal with feral hogs: poison. Called “Kaput Feral Hog Lure” it is a human blood-thinner that proves lethal in hogs. “They’re so prolific, you can’t hardly keep them in check,” Miller told the American-Statesman. Sows have been known to produce two litters a year, typically with four to six offspring in each litter. “This is going to be the “hog apocalypse”, if you like: If you want them gone, this will get them gone.” The product is essentially bait food laced with warfarin.

This has caused concern among Texas hunters, as state officials have downplayed the threat of the poison to other wildlife. Hunters have collected more than 12,000 signatures to oppose the poison. Hunters are concerned with the poison being consumed by other wildlife in Texas, notably black bears who can get into the hog traps that will have bait food, other animals that could eat the bait that the hogs drop, and native animals like coyotes who could eat the poisoned carcass of a hog. Miller seems confident that the hog poison will be the answer to the overwhelming feral hog infestation. The question is, at what price to our other wildlife?

Texas Department of Agriculture has put out a Fact Sheet to address the high volume of questions.

Out of opposition the Texas Hog Hunters Association put out the following statement, encouraging people to sign a petition and support their organization

MAR 1, 2017 - “We are pushing forward and gaining ground, we are planning to move forward and head to Austin to Lobby the State Legislature. As many of you know we are a grass roots organization and funding is very tight, we will obviously have expenses occurred with this so if you have the ability to help financially support this fight we would be most appreciative. There is now a donate button on our website at www.texashha.com if you are able.”

This hog-wild debate is far from over! Follow our blog and subscribe toBucks to Business Podcast to stay up to date on current issues effecting Texas Landowners.

Go get em!

Kasey Mock
Mock Ranches


Sources:

  • http://www.mystatesman.com/news/state--regional-govt--politics/sid-miller-approve-new-technique-for-killing-feral-hogs-poison/2vnQ1A9Bdn2aichF58ZRPJ/
  • http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/13/us/13ttporkchopper.html
  • http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/02/21/hunters-fight-so-called-feral-hog-apocalypse-in-texas.html


3 Reasons to Work with a Rural Real Estate Agent

Kasey Mock - 3/2/17

Services Access

Unlike urban residential developments, many rural properties have limited access to community water systems, electrical systems, and roads. Additionally, amenities like high-speed internet or cable service which are readily available in the city or suburbs may be less reliable or more costly to acquire on a rural property. A local real estate agent or broker specializing in agricultural properties can explain which municipal and utility services are available for a given plot of land.

Environmental Issues

Whether you intend to run your farm as a business or a hobby, it’s crucial that you select a property with soil history and environmental conditions that match the crops or livestock you intend to raise. Real estate agents specializing in rural property will know the processes necessary to evaluate the soil for productivity and check your property for things like floodplains, wetlands, and threatened species habitats, which can seriously limit how a property can be used

Rights and Usage

Water is the single most important factor in running a successful farm, and water rights law is very complex. An agricultural real estate professional can explain the particulars of water, wind, and mineral rights for a given property. If you’re purchasing an undeveloped plot of land, it’s crucial that you carefully investigate local zoning ordinances to ensure that you can use a property as you see fit. Finally, many rural properties have easements for road, power, or irrigation access, which means that others can access your property. An experienced agent can explain these easements and what, if any, responsibilities they require from you.

Go get em!

Kasey Mock
Mock Ranches



10 Point Checklist for Land Investing

Kasey Mock - 3/2/17

1. Evaluate long-range historical trends and market projections: A qualified land specialist like those at Mock Ranches can help you determine the best time to buy, and the price you should be willing to pay in order to achieve the desired return.

2. “Location, location, location” also applies to land investments. Transitional land near a city will typically have a higher initial cost, but the opportunity for rapid appreciation over a short period of time is higher than land in a remote rural market. Waterfront properties tend to hold value and appreciate.

3. Room for creativity: What basic land improvements like roads, fencing, brush removal or water can be made to increase land values? Investors should go easy on elaborate improvements like highly customized homes, fancy horse barns or facilities. Buyers will want to make it their own, so investors should simply prepare the canvas for them. While basic land improvements generate a high ROI, more specialized properties are harder to sell.

4. Get to know the land intimately: Nothing beats a day spend outside hunting, fishing, riding horses or preparing the land. Spending time on the land will allow you to learn the key features that make it unique and familiarize yourself with layout. Maps can be very useful tools when learning a property. Contact Mock Ranches for a free property Map

5. Easements and access: It is important to fully understand any easements to or through the land that could impact privacy or future use. Is there a road to the land? Is it paved, dirt, or gravel? How easy will your land be to access? Is there and easement to the land, or are there easements through it? Who else has access to the land and what are their rights. A detailed title report prepared by a title company that understands land transactions is extremely valuable. Alamo Title in Boerne, TX is a good place to start

6. Understand Property Taxes: What are your options for property taxes, and who is collecting them? Texas landowners can qualify for huge property tax reductions under the 1-d-1 Open Space Tax Valuation. This is earned by managing your property for agricultural use, wildlife management, bees, or timberland. This reduced rate can be as much as a 99% reduction in property taxes which lowers the cost of ownership for investors. There are many professional firms to consult with landowners. Contact us for a free land use analysis

7. Check mineral ownership and production: Production of oil, gas, and other minerals can generate large returns for investors who own the rights to them. Some land can be bought as surface space while someone else owns the mineral rights below the ground. Research historical production in the area and know what you own. We recommend a good mineral attorney like Allen and Associates for a mineral title search, Investors can research production trends per county through the Texas Railroad Commission

9. Deed Restrictions: Are there deed restrictions that would prevent a buyer sub-diving the property or using it for a desired use? Examples of this would be commercial agriculture, mining, industrial use, hunting, or creating impervious cover.

10. Cash or Finance: Savvy investors monitor interest rates and compare those to what return they can make on their cash by keeping it. If rates are low enough, it often times make sense to finance land and keep your cash. Lenders like Capital farm Credit or Crockett National Bank have competitive loan products designed for land buyers.


Go get em!

Kasey Mock
Mock Ranches


Recent Videos

4 Ways to Finance your Farm Purchase

Whether you’re looking to retire in the countryside, start a community supported agriculture (CSA) business, or open your own winery, a farm is a significant purchase that shouldn’t be pursued lightly. Unless you’re independently wealthy, chances are you’ll need financial help to make your dream of owning a farm a reality. Here are a few of the safest and most popular methods for financing your farm purchase.

Traditional Loan or Mortgage

The most popular method for financing an agricultural property, and the first option you should consider, is a loan from a private financial institution with experience in rural property lending. When seeking out a lender, it’s important to remember that a standard residential mortgage lender isn’t necessarily the best choice. Instead, you should work with a lender who specializes in financing rural land. This will ensure you get the best terms and that your loan doesn’t fall through due to unforeseen circumstances.

“Home mortgage lenders love to quote ‘teaser rates’ just to get a loan application and they are notorious for ‘over-promising’ what they can do with rural property. Unfortunately, I’ve seen many folks learn the hard way that farm/ranch financing is completely different from traditional home mortgage lending and that using the wrong lender can quickly blow a deal out of the water.”, said rural lending expert Joe Patterson, Vice President/Ranch Lending of Crockett National Bank, New Braunfels, Texas. To be certain that a buyer has the right kind of loan for a farm or ranch purchase, it’s important to find a lender who has the specific expertise to understand the uniqueness of rural property financing and can offer the best combination of a good product with excellent customer service.

Unlike standard residential mortgages, agricultural mortgages are designed for rural properties whose value is largely tied to the land so the interest rates, down payment requirements, and loan terms offered by farm/ranch lenders will be different than those offered for home mortgages. But when compared to the stress, hassle, and excessive paperwork of the typical home loan process, a well-structured rural property loan from a farm/ranch lending expert is almost always a simpler and faster process.

Farm Service Agency (FSA)

The US Department of Agriculture offers down payment assistance programs for agricultural property buyers. Known as Farm Service Agency (FSA) Direct Farm Ownership Loans, these are generally reserved for beginning farmers who are having trouble securing a private loan. The program loans farm buyers up to 40% of the down payment on a purchase of a farm. In addition to direct loans, FSA also provides loan guarantees, which enable a buyer to secure a traditional loan by guaranteeing it against loss up to 90 percent in most cases.

Farm Credit System (FCS)

The Farm Credit System is a national network of local and regional borrower-owned lending institutions primarily geared toward farm buyers and operators under the age of 35, with 10 or fewer years of experience. FCS institutions operate similarly to private banks: applicants can receive agricultural property ownership, operating, and equipment loans. Many FCS organizations also offer additional programs, such as business consulting, crop insurance, tax services, and financial record-keeping assistance.


Veterans Land Loan Program (VLB)

The VLB offers Texas Veterans exclusive financing towards the purchase of land in Texas. Bonds used to fund the program are retired from loan repayments and the cost of administering the program is financed through a small fee charged on each loan. To qualify for a VLB loan, the land must be in Texas, be at least 1 acre, have legal, useable access to a public road, not be zoned strictly for commercial use, not have been previously owned by you or a spouse in the last 3 years. The maximum loan amount is $125,000 towards buying land with a minimum down payment of 5% and fixed-rate-30-year loan term.

Other Financing Avenues

If the above financing sources aren’t enough, there are other avenues for raising the funds necessary to purchase and start a farm. From local and national nonprofits like ShadeFund, to crowdsourcing platforms like Indiegogo and Fundable, aspiring farm and ranch owners have a variety of emerging options for filling the resource gaps in their plans.

Questions to Ask before Buying a Farm or Ranch

Decades ago, the majority of rural properties were developed and built by full-time farm and ranch families, who had extensive agricultural experience and lived on the land they worked. Today, the typical buyer may have little to no farming or ranching experience. In fact, they may not even come from a rural background.

If this sounds like you, then you’ll want to take extra care when deciding to invest in an agricultural property. Here are a few key questions to ask yourself before taking the plunge.

Will your farm be a business, or a hobby?

This is an important question for a couple reasons. First, the answer can seriously impact your tax burden. A working farm enjoys certain tax deductions so long as certain conditions are met, including maintaining records of transactions, revenues, and expenditures that increase the value of your property. If you don’t intend to seek a profit or document your transactions, then the IRS may revoke these deductions. Second, running a profitable family farm or ranch is hard work. In today’s agricultural economy, your chances of competing successfully with commercial farm operations are slim. If your goal in purchasing a farm is to turn a profit, then you’ll need to make sure you have the knowledge, the skill, and the time to adequately invest in your property.

Does the land suit your farming needs or goals?

Not every piece of farmland is suitable for every purpose. When purchasing a farm, it’s important to know what crops or animals you intend to raise there, then evaluate a property based on that information. If you want to grow fruits or vegetables, for instance, you'll want to know that you have solid ground with access to full sunlight for production of your crops. If at all possible, be sure to visit the property at different times to check slopes for stability, evaluate sunlight conditions, etc. You can also obtain NRCS reports online to evaluate soil conditions and potential yields.

How much infrastructure already exists?

Farmland needs to be worked extensively to produce results, and this will be a lot easier if your property is already equipped with the infrastructure necessary to support your farm operation. Is there a barn, grain silo, or other farm structure on the property? Are there irrigation systems in place, and are those systems appropriate for your planned crops? Does the farm or ranch come with any fencing? The answers to these questions will give you more insight on the true value of the property beyond the sale price.

What else is included in the sale?

In many agricultural property transactions, a seller will include (or be willing to include) additional equipment, materials, and other physical assets that have a significant impact on the value of the property, as well as the up-front expenses you’ll need to pay to keep the property running. Such assets may include existing livestock and crops, tractors, fertilizers, etc. When negotiating the terms of a sale, be sure to consider what you’ll need in order to get your farm or ranch up and running, and see if your seller would be willing to include those items in the deal.


5 Tips for Selling your Farm or Ranch

Whether your farm has been in the family for generations, or you’re a first-generation farm owner looking to scale up your investment, selling an agricultural property can be a complicated and stressful process. Here are a few tips for getting the best results when. selling your farm or ranch.

Get the property appraised

Start by hiring an agricultural real estate appraiser to determine the value of your rural property. Make sure this appraiser specializes in agricultural properties, as they have knowledge of factors unique to rural properties, including water and irrigation, soil conditions, climate and crop yields, easements and zoning restrictions, and consumer trends in agriculture.

Consider leasing

If your agricultural property has sentimental value, or if you’re simply interested in limiting your direct involvement in the work of maintaining a farm, you might consider leasing your property rather than selling. This can help provide a source of steady income, while ensuring that you retain ownership of the property down the line.

Understand what you’ll be taxed

As a business entity, a farm is subject to a variety of complicated taxes beyond those of a standard residential property. Whether you come out ahead on the sale of your agricultural property may hinge on how well you’ve prepared from a taxation standpoint. For instance, various tax rates and treatments apply to the different types of assets involved with the sale of a farm or ranch, including land, livestock, structures, and equipment. When allocating the sales price to the assets of your farm, be sure to consult an experienced tax professional.

Take great photos

Like any real estate listing, farm and ranch properties benefit from high-resolution, professional photography that highlights their best qualities and attracts buyers. Before putting your property up for sale, invest in a good camera or photographer to capture images that showcase the natural beauty of your property, along with the possibilities the land offers.

Don’t forget capital gains

When you sell your land, you’ll incur federal and state taxes, which are typically due in the year following the sale. If the property sells for a value greater than your purchase price, then you will owe a capital gains tax, which can be as much as 20 percent depending on your income. If you intend to purchase a new agricultural property, consider a 1031 exchange, which enables you to defer a capital gain indefinitely or until a replacement property is purchased.


Using Video for Land Marketing

Are videos critical for land marketing?

In today’s high-tech environment it can be difficult for sellers and even top agents to determine the best strategy for marketing premier farm & ranch properties. Nearly every conversation with a seller eventually ends with the question of video marketing. Advancements in aerial drones and lightweight cameras has made video more affordable. Still, quality real estate videos are expensive, ranging from $2,000 to more than $10,000. This can be risky expense for many agents with no guarantee of a commission. So, is video worth it?

What is your goal: To answer this question you must ask yourself what your goal is for the video. Is your goal to sell the client’s ranch faster and for more money? Is it to set yourself apart in a competitive real estate market? Or can it be both? I actually think it should be both.

Tell a story: Video provides viewers with a unique perspective that still photos cannot. It connects viewers emotionally to the property and to your brand, and allows you to tell a story. Every farm or ranch has a story that is unique as the people who settled it. It is our job as land marketing professionals to tell that story and allow the family’s legacy to live on. Storyteller Kindra Hall says, “The strength of a brand is no longer measured by how well you communicate what you can do for your potential customers. The strength of your brand is now measured by how well your customers can tell their network about you, and how well their network can tell their network”. People remember stories and pass them on. The story does the work for you. Storytelling is a method brand marketers rely on to captivate, and film is now their chosen medium.

Where we are today: Until recently, virtual tours were our only option and many realtors use them to simulate video. Boring! That is not what I am referring to when I use the term video. According to Clover Carol with New Story Media“Film has an advantage over virtual tours for many reasons. Virtual tours are still images linked together and set to music, which provide a limited view of the property. Most importantly, they offer nothing more than what was posted in the MLS photos. You have a high-end clientele who can spot low quality in an instant; why offer them low-end, outdated marketing materials? A cheap production only cheapens the property and your reputation. Video gives you an edge over your competitors and communicates to customers that you are serious about selling their property.”

Numbers don’t lie: JP Lewis, Media Director at Keller Williams Realty (the world’s largest real estate company) says agents who use video earn approximately 103% more that those who don’t. Leading marketers in any industry leverage cutting-edge technology to keep their business ahead. In June 2015, 183 million Americans viewed more than 44 billion online videos. Currently one third of all online activity is spent watching video. Cisco predicts that within two years, 90% of internet traffic will be video content. Companies are investing more in video as they realize the positive impact it has on their bottom dollar. It is estimated that national video ad spending will increase from $1.97 billion to $5.71 billion in 2017. The numbers are staggering.

Not only can compelling video direct traffic to your website, your customers will actually advertise for you by liking and sharing it on social media. In the September issue of “Real Estate” magazine, Stephen Schweickart, CEO of VScreen, said, “The handwriting is on the wall. It’s not a matter of whether or not Realtors will incorporate video into their marketing … but rather how far behind they will fall before seeing the light.”

A Farmhouse Kitchen Was All We Ever Knew

Farmhouse kitchens seem to be all the rage as women everywhere are living vicariously through Joanna Gains on HGTV’s hit show, Fixer Upper. But what is it about farmhouse kitchens that is so appealing? After all, this isn’t a new idea. So why has this style of kitchen come full circle? Perhaps it has more to do with the ideal of quality family time than it does with open white cabinets and a functional design.

Growing up on a small farm in central Texas, the kitchen was our gathering place. Eggs and bacon were prepared most mornings, and there was always a home cooked meal waiting for us once we finished our chores and fed the animals. The animals always ate first around Twin M Farms. My dad took us hunting or fishing nearly every weekend so we always had fresh meat to go with mom’s garden vegetables. You might say we ate an all-natural diet before it was the fad. Our family kitchen hosted regular Sunday lunches, large family celebrations and meals for a tired crew after we worked baby pigs and de-horned kid goats.

My childhood home had the typical modern farm house kitchen. Traditional wood floors with the hollow sound that made it difficult to sneak out at night. A large butcher-block island served as a buffet table for guests, and a meat processing table where we made hundreds of pounds of sausage and ground venison each winter. That butcher-block carries the knife scars and stains from years of use. It was around this island that we joined the hands of love and gave thanks before every meal.

Our kitchen wasn’t always the cleanest, but my mom would say “we lived there.” Our dishes may not have matched, but the food served on them would make The Pioneer Woman proud. My parents raised three successful children and blessed countless friends with a home cooked meal in that kitchen. A real farmhouse kitchen wears a patina that only years of love and heavy use can create. I believe this is what so many people are looking for in a modern farmhouse kitchen. I pray they find it.

Here are some great Farmhouse Kitchen design ideas from the Keller Williams Blog: http://blog.kw.com/farmhouse-kitchens-coming-to-a-listing-near-you