Remembering Barton Biggs

When it came to financial experts, they didn’t get any bigger — or any smarter — than Barton Biggs, who died July 14 at the age of 79. I rarely speak without quoting his 1988 advice: “Buy a farm and get rich slowly.” He’s quoted repeatedly in my 1993 book, Farmland Investment Strategy.

Biggs wasn’t known primarily as an advocate for farmland investing, but as one of those rare individuals with the ability to see where we are going far ahead of the crowd. He was one of the first investment strategists to take a truly global view, beginning to promote investment in China and other world markets long before American businesses saw the potential. And he saw the end coming to the “dot-com” boom three years before it happened.

He also understood the value of American farmland as an asset class, saying that a large institutional portfolio should have 3 to 5 percent of its assets in farmland. Biggs especially appreciated midwestern farmland, which he called “the best grain-growing acreage in the world.”

He didn’t stop there: “There is no land anywhere that has comparable topsoil densities and is as fertile. The weather provides a perfect combination of heat and moisture and the topography is ideal,” he said.

Thanks, Barton. And rest in peace. You’ve earned your reward.