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Producing Excellence

David Miller

Wilmette, IL

Iroquois Valley Farms, LLC

Type of Operation: Private company supporting local and organic farming

Size of Operation: 1,500 acres purchased

In Business Since: 2006

Farm Credit Partner: Compeer Financial

Working with Farm Credit Since: 2011

Any type of farming comes with challenges, but organic farming adds a few extra: incorporating hay and cover crops in field rotations, battling weeds and insects and striving to increase fertility without using chemicals. One farmland company in the Great Lakes-Midwest region is dedicated to helping area farmers maintain sustainable, local and organic agriculture.

Co-founded by current CEO David E. Miller, Iroquois Valley Farms is the first company in the U.S. to buy farmland and enable young and organic producers to build their operations. The private company buys land and then rents it back to the farmers using long-term, renewable leases. So far, the company has helped purchase more than 1,500 acres of land in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan, and has a dairy farm in New York under contract. It also just sold farmland to one of its legacy farm tenants.

The lease terms offered by Iroquois Valley Farms allow profitability for the company and the farmer, a win-win scenario that has created a successful business model. “We focus on solid economics, positive environmental impacts and the social benefits of supporting the family farmer,” David says. “Our focus is mid-sized, multi-generational family farms that may not be able to buy the land themselves.” Most new tenants in the last year have been young farmers.

The lease terms also require crops to be produced organically or for local distribution, helping meet growing consumer desire for such foods. “We focus on local and organic foods,” he says. “We are set up to help farmers grow their existing business. We thought that providing access to land was the best way to fill a need in sustainable agriculture.” In addition to organic corn, soybeans, hay and small grains, the farmers also produce a variety of specialty crops, including fruits and vegetables.

Iroquois Valley Farms uses funds from Compeer Financial and a growing number of individual investors who have purchased the company’s stock so that more acres can be acquired for lease. “We are always looking for more investors to expand our business,” David says. “We want to enable more young farmers to increase local and organic production and keep land in families for future generations.”

David himself purchased 10 acres of land after a 30-year banking and investment career, land that has been in his family since 1875. With his personal understanding of the connection farmers have with the land, he hopes his firm is able to help farmers get started and remain in farming. David says, “Our first choice is always to have the farmers buy the land themselves but we know not everyone can – or wants to – do that. We are a great second choice.”

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