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Why Josh Allen and Other Superstars are Investing in American Farms

  • Allen is the first guest on the "Like a Farmer" podcast from AgAmerica and is growing his own pistachios.
  • In January, several pro athletes bought farmland in Iowa.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen talks into a microphone during a panel discussion.
Jamie Germano/Democrat and Chronicle / USA TODAY NETWORK

Before he was leading the NFL in jersey sales and starring on the cover of “Madden NFL 24,” Josh Allen worked on his family’s farm in rural California. It’s brutal, gritty work, which the star Buffalo Bills quarterback says helped prepare him for the NFL.

“The stuff I’m doing is hard — working out, keeping your body in shape,” he says on the “Like a Farmer” podcast. “But it’s not harder than moving an irrigation pipe in 115 degrees.”

Allen is the first guest on “Like a Farmer” — which launches Thursday from AgAmerica, a financial lender for farmers, ranchers, and landowners across the United States.

The show seeks to bridge the gap between everyday consumers and agriculture workers through interviews with athletes and celebrities who have connections to American farms — or just understand their importance.

“They don’t necessarily have to come from a farm, they just have to be passionate and willing to say, ‘Hey, I actually appreciate and know who the farmer is, where my food comes from, the adversity that they face,’” podcast host and AgAmerica director of business development Pat Spinosa told Front Office Sports. “Especially on the athletes’ side, these guys face [adversity] every single day.”

The farming industry — which critically produces food, clothes, and other essential goods — has been struggling in recent years: Between 2021 and 2022, over 9,000 farms closed down, per Spinosa, and the amount of farmland in the U.S. shrunk by 22 million acres in the last decade, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Spinosa also notes that by 2050, American agriculture will need to produce 60% more food than it does now to meet demand.

Several professional athletes have noticed the need and are creating investment opportunities.

Joe-Burrow-Blake-Griffin

Joe Burrow, Blake Griffin Among Athletes Investing in Farming

A group of roughly 25 athletes for around $5 million.
January 9, 2023

In January, a group of over 20 athletes led by Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow and Boston Celtics forward Blake Griffin bought a farm in Iowa through a $5 million fund committed to agricultural investments. The group will lease the land to farmers, seek a single-digit-percentage annual return on the total investment, and plans to purchase four additional farms in the coming years.

“It was the right time in the cycle to put money into this asset class,” said Mark Patricof, whose Patricof Co. arranged the fund.

“People are starting to understand how important the asset of farm real estate is,” Spinosa says. “We are losing land every single day, and that is an asset that continues to appreciate year-over-year. So not only is it a necessity for the country, but it’s also a good investment.”

While Allen apparently wasn’t involved in the Patricof Co. investment group, he’s kept to his roots by recently planting pistachio trees on his father’s farm; he plans to have 1,000 acres of them and turn it into a profitable business.

The Bills star also plans to keep spreading AgAmerica’s mission: The pair plan to release a branded merchandise line in the coming months.

Spinosa was tight-lipped on other athletes who are coming on the program, but did tease that Dude Perfect’s Tyler Toney will be the interview for the second episode.

“They’re passionate about agriculture and they’re passionate about conservation,” says Spinosa. “They have gained their success and now they’re pushing the gospel of American agriculture, which is cool to see.”

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