Managing Farms and Ranches for Appreciation, Enjoyment and Profit

In addition to real estate marketing, mortgage banking and appraisals, Hall and Hall offers its clients a full line of resource management services. Managing quality rural real estate properties – be it commercial farms or ranches or prime recreational retreats – can be a daunting challenge. This is particularly true for absentee or part-time owners, but even full-time resident owners can benefit from the outside perspective of an experienced ranch management team.

Increasingly, complex federal and state environmental regulations, changing national and world markets for livestock, crops and timber, critical water and mineral rights issues and tax considerations (including those affecting inheritance) all come into play. They require a high level of current knowledge and on-the-ground experience and expertise. Diligent operational oversight and creative business and resource development planning are often best introduced by an independent third party who comes to the table with broad exposure to many other operations. Among the management services Hall and Hall offers to owners and prospective owners of quality rural properties are: Budgeting, accounting services and bill paying; creation and execution of resource development and business plans; asset evaluation including land, equipment, structures, herds, crops, fish, wildlife, and other tangibles; product sales and marketing services; recruitment and hiring of management level personnel; periodic oversight of operations; direct management of deeded properties, leases, and grazing allotments.

Hall and Hall resource management

Today, the value of a ranch’s non-agricultural components may be significantly greater than the value attributable to its ability to produce commodities.

“Historically, the most reliable predictor of a successful farm, ranch, or recreational operation is competent, honest, and qualified management,” says Wes Oja, Director of Hall and Hall’s Management Group based in Billings, Montana. A fifth-generation Montanan.

Oja is a graduate of Montana State with a B.S. in Agricultural Business and a minor in Economics. Prior to joining Hall and Hall in 2000 he was with CHS, Inc. for over 10 years where he was a floor broker at the Minneapolis Grain Exchange and eventually become a Director of that organization.

“Virtually all facets of the operation revolve around people and the weather,” Oja emphasizes, “and because you can’t control the weather, owners need to be sure they’ve got the best people available. In the end, the returns they get—financial and otherwise—are highly dependent on the skills and abilities of those management-level personnel.”

For 70 years, Hall and Hall has specialized in serving the owners and prospective owners of quality rural real estate by providing mortgage loans, appraisals, land management, auction and brokerage services.

For 70 years, Hall and Hall has specialized in serving the owners and prospective owners of quality rural real estate by providing mortgage loans, appraisals, land management, auction and brokerage services.

Hall and Hall maintains a large database of management-ready, proven candidates, Oja notes. Some are capable of handling large farms and ranches and others are geared toward smaller operations and recreational properties. “We help the owner define the position by carefully looking at the operation. We fully research the potential candidate’s background in addition to references, and we make sure it’s a good match for the owner and the operation.” Employment of farmers, ranchers and agricultural workers is projected to decline by 2% over a 20 year period beginning in 2014. (1)

For example, Oja and Dan Bergstrom, another key member of Hall and Hall’s resource management team, recruited and hired such a manager to execute the business plan they developed for a 26,000-acre ranching operation combining three separate properties in Montana’s spectacular Shields River Valley. “After calculating capacity and forage production for the properties and translating that into a grazing schedule and corresponding ranch Profit and Loss, we created a four-year operating plan and budget for the owner,” Bergstrom notes.

Meade Creek Ranch

As landowners’ goals have changed with the times, Hall and Hall’s Resource Management Group has become a valued partner to ranch owners throughout the Intermountain West.

Raised on his family’s ranch in central Montana,  Bergstrom has a B.S. in Range Science from Montana State University. Prior to joining Hall and Hall he was a pasture and range management specialist with the Wilbur Ellis Company and has been involved in projects in Nevada, Oregon, Wyoming, and Montana. Today, he and Oja continue to provide management oversight for the Shields operation, including the improvement of pasture and hay lands, the expansion of the cattle herd and infrastructure development such as roads, buildings, and irrigation systems.

Acting as the owner’s representative, they also negotiate, secure, and oversee ranch and grazing leases for other ranching operations. “We continue to conduct regular inspections to ensure that the tenants are properly managing resources in line with the owner’s goals as well as tracking capital improvement projects on these properties,” Bergstrom notes.

Having a skilled management services team available to farm and ranch owners is vital to operational profitability and maintaining and adding to property values. It is a major advantage if and when a decision is made to sell. Jerome Chivilicek, a Hall and Hall Director, who joined the company in 1989, has been working with the McEwen Ranch and Cattle Company , an Oregon ranch for sale, for many years. A profitable legacy ranch of almost 52,500 acres, the McEwen Ranch is one of the largest deeded ranches for sale in the West today.

McEwen Ranch and Cattle Company

McEwen Ranch and Cattle Company

“Jerome has been providing professional management and oversight services to our ranch since 2008,” notes the owner, David Feinberg. “This has been a great help in maintaining and growing the profitability of our cattle and hay operations and enhancing the ranch’s diverse natural resources. Having a stable, proven management team in place not only eliminates a lot of day to day stress but is a great advantage for a potential buyer who can see the value in the property in black and white and be assured of a smooth ownership transition.”

Raised on a Montana dryland wheat and barley farm, Chvilicek has a B.S. in Agricultural Business from Montana State University and an M.A. in Agricultural Economics from Washington State University. Always stressing the importance of long-term personal relationships with Hall and Hall clients, Chvilicek specializes in the oversight and management of larger income producing properties such as the McEwen Ranch, where owner value lies not only in the land and its ability to raise quality cattle and crops, but also in its extensive fish and wildlife resources.

Established in 1981, our traditional land management approach has evolved to include the enhancement of aquatic, wildlife, and recreational resources.

Established in 1981, our traditional land management approach has evolved to include the enhancement of aquatic, wildlife, and recreational resources.

Natural resources and ecological concerns are increasingly taking center stage today and have a strong impact on the value of farm and ranch lands. Justin Bryan, based out of Abilene, Texas with a B.S. degree in Wildlife Management from Texas Tech and an M.S. in Wildlife Management from Texas A & M, Kingsville, is an integral part of the Hall and Hall land management team. Bryan has a diverse background in wildlife research and management.

Prior to joining Hall and Hall in 2015, Bryan worked for The Nature Conservancy and then as a farm and ranch manager for U.S. Trust-Bank of America. He also worked as a wildlife biologist for Cabela’s Inc. in their wildlife and land management division.

“Creating quality habitat for fish and wildlife on rural land holdings not only improves natural beauty and recreational opportunities,” Bryan stresses, “but increases the land’s value as well and can result in generating profit-making opportunities for the landowner.“

Because every ranch, farm, or recreational property is unique and owners have different, often competing goals, Hall and Hall’s management team stands ready to accommodate the individual needs of each client with an integrated team approach to problem-solving, backed by the integrity, experience, and a network of professional relationships unmatched in the business.

Our success in land and resource management is directly attributable to our ability to integrate wildlife and fishery enhancement with traditional and innovative farming and ranching practices.

Our success in land and resource management is directly attributable to our ability to integrate wildlife and fishery enhancement with traditional and innovative farming and ranching practices.

Hall and Hall is a close-knit, nationwide, employee-owned company with more than seven decades of experience. It operates under a unique partnership arrangement that promotes across-the-board internal cooperation, which results in an exclusive focus on the needs and goals of their clients. They have a long-standing track record of success in financing, selling, auctioning, and helping their clients buy, manage, use and enjoy tracts of quality rural land in the United States and abroad. This has resulted in a loyal base of repeat customers.

In terms of Hall and Hall’s management services, their track record and loyal customer base is built on the education of the client, and the expertise and hands-on experience of a team skilled in the integration of traditional ranching and farming practices with up-to-date fish, wildlife, and environmental considerations. This is all designed to maintain and increase land values while maximizing owner satisfaction and enjoyment of their property.

Most importantly, Hall and Hall’s focus is exclusively on the representation of farm and ranch owners. This focus allows them to always be part of the solution for the landowner, not part of the problem. Management services can be reduced to simply handling the bill paying and monthly reports against budget. These are critical services and allow just enough oversight to allow the management team to identify a problem and immediately step in to solve it.

*Special thanks to Dennis Higman for writing this excellent blog entry.

 

Cited- (1) http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/farmers-ranchers-and-other-agricultural-managers.htm