Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mound City Money

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mound City Money

Article excerpt

From David Nicklaus' blog about St. Louis business. STLtoday.com/ moundcitymoney

Fed survey finds 8 percent decline in farmland prices * Farm incomes and farmland prices both fell in the fourth quarter of 2016, a survey by the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank finds.

The Fed polled agricultural bankers in its district, which covers all of Arkansas and parts of six other Midwestern and Southern states. The bankers estimated that prices of crop land fell 8 percent last year while the value of pasture or ranch property fell 3.5 percent.

The survey showed a decline in farm income for the 12th straight quarter. The bankers also said farmers cut back their household and capital spending in response to lower crop prices.

"We are experiencing the same effects of the lower corn prices that other financial institutions are experiencing," one Illinois banker told the Fed. "Farmland values have decreased slightly; however, they are still very high compared to what any farm can cash flow from straight commodity crop production."

The Fed also asked questions about the market for farmland. Bankers said they expected the volume of land sales to be about the same this year as it was in 2016. Sixty-nine percent of bankers said the majority of land sold in their area was purchased by farmers, as opposed to investors or developers. (02.09)

Big investors push for end to dual-share classes * Big money managers and pension funds are becoming increasingly outspoken about companies that don't give equal voting rights to all shareholders.

An effort called the Investor Stewardship Group, announced this week, is pushing for corporate governance principles that include a one-share, one-vote standard.

The group says companies should "avoid adopting share structures that create unequal voting rights among their shareholders." Firms with such dual-class shares should phase them out, the group adds.

Investor Stewardship Group members include private-sector money managers BlackRock, Vanguard and T. Rowe Price along with public pension funds from California and Washington.

Separately, the Council of Institutional Investors sent a sharply worded letter to Snap, the latest company to issue shares with unequal voting rights. …

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