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Gladstone enters Florida panhandle with $2.6m farmland deal

The farmland REIT’s latest acquisition marks an expansion into a new region of Florida, a state second only to California within its $560m property portfolio.

Gladstone Land, a Virginia-headquartered farmland REIT listed on the NASDAQ exchange, has purchased a 574-acre Northern Florida farmland property devoted to melons and peanuts.

The company said that as part of the transaction, Gladstone has assumed an existing lease on the property with more than two years left until expiration. Gladstone declined to provide detail on what will happen to the property at the end of that period. Price was undisclosed.

Managing director Bill Frisbie said Gladstone said he was pleased to enter the panhandle region of Northern Florida, a state already well represented in its portfolio.

“This region has very fertile ground and many strong farming operators who we can partner with to continue expanding our farmland holdings in the region,” said Frisbie.

On the REIT’s second-quarter earnings call last month, Gladstone acknowledged that the first half of the year had been slow in terms of acquisitions but said he expected the company to be “much more active” during the rest of this year and into 2019.

Specifically, Gladstone mentioned potential acquisitions of citrus, vegetable and almond properties in California and a potential deal in Texas that would be the REIT’s first in that state.

“Demand for prime-quality farmland growing berries and vegetables remains stable to strong in almost all the areas that we’re located in, and this is mostly along the West Coast, including California, Oregon, Washington and the East Coast, especially Florida,” he said.

In July, Gladstone devoted the proceeds of a rare farmland sale, that of a $21 million property in Oregon, to the $37.4 million acquisition of 5,630 non-contiguous acres in Southern Florida.

Gladstone’s 79 farms portfolio of 67,000 acres is spread across nine US states and valued at $560 million. Second only to California, where Gladstone owns 19 properties, Florida is the second-most active state for the company, which owns 13 properties there that are devoted to organic vegetables, strawberries and other crops.

“Florida continues to experience strong population growth, which puts upward pressure on farmland values and rents as more acreage is taken out of production every year for development,” Frisbie said in July.