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I normally get the Financial Times Weekend paper – it has excellent coverage of the arts and books, it does very interesting profiles and proper journalism in its magazine. I started reading the FT in the autumn of 2007 because I felt they had more of a clue financially than the other broadsheet newspapers.
On 14th November 2008 I entered their competition to pick the Next Big Investment Idea. No, I didn\’t win (I think it was some guy with a shares scheme – and yes, I have tried but I couldn\’t find him).
Here\’s what I wrote in the hangover month of November 2008:
\”Future investments will have to be simple, real and ethical because, sadder and wiser now, nobody will touch anything else for twenty years.
I believe agricultural land will offer investments which will offer opportunities for increasing real value.
In the last two years of the property bubble, farmland had started to rise rapidly in value – at a rate of about 30% per year. Since the early 1990s farmland prices have increased by 130% – mainly due to City bonus bunnies looking for a refuge from inheritance tax – until they were approaching highs of £10,000 per acre. Since then farmland prices have dropped by about 2% and seem likely to return to pre-bubble levels of £5,000. They may well drop further as distressed bonus bunnies need to sell up quickly. This will be a tremendous opportunity because I believe the high commodity and oil prices that make local farmland valuable will inevitably return – and supplies are limited.
A fund should be set up to buy up cheap farmland. The land should then be improved, ideally by converting it to organic standards or by planting some form of
permaculture. Once the land is ready it should be leased to farmers to provide a regular income to pay to investors. Ultimately it should be sold to release a profit and more land purchased for improvement.
Importantly, investors will be able to visit “their” acres and see the improvements. This will make it possible to sell the investments into a very cynical market.\”
Lead article in the Financial Times House & Home section this week (Sat 15 Oct 2011)?
\”Movers and Acres. The value of farmland has doubled in recent years, triggering heady investment activity in rural real estate.\”
Well I was wrong about investors being \”sadder and wiser\”. I was, however, spectacularly right about the investment potential of farmland. Alas, as usual, I didn\’t have the money to back my prediction and so I can\’t point to my rolling acres bought on the cheap. That\’s what I wanted the prize money for.  
Can I have my £10,000 prize now please, FT? I\’ve just had another next big investment idea.

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