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Broker plants seeds with sellers

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  • | 10:00 a.m. December 26, 2014
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Longtime Florida agricultural land broker Ben Crosby has a challenge he hasn't seen in decades: Demand for farmland in the Sunshine State has outstripped supply.

“We are busy day and night,” Crosby tells Coffee Talk. “We are spending a lot of time trying to find willing sellers.”

Crosby, in a release, says “seemingly disconnected events and trends” nationwide have come together to create the high demand. Those events include high land prices for Midwest farms and chronic water shortages in California and Texas. “Most of my career, I've been helping land owners find buyers,” says Crosby, president of Winter Haven-based Crosby & Associates, one of the largest land brokers in the state. “Now, things are turned upside down and buyers are calling on me for help in finding agricultural land to buy.”

The newfound demand, adds Crosby, also presents an opportunity for citrus grove owners struggling with greening issues that have worsened in recent years. Some citrus farmers, he says, have converted their land to row crops or pasture and then listed the property.

Crosby, in an effort to lasso more sellers, says he's recently begun to emphasize auctions. He normally works with Champaign, Ill.-based Murray Wise Associates, one of the largest agricultural land auctioneers in the country. Crosby and Murray Wise recently sold nearly 12,000 acres statewide, including tracts in Hillsborough and Manatee counties, through several auctions.

“When it's a sellers' market, it's important to make sure you're getting the full market value for your land,” Crosby says. “Sometimes you'll have an offer that gives you a nice profit, but someone else might have paid more.”


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