DALLAS — The first dominoes of a global trend of ranchers abandoning their traditional lands in favor of the Chinese are starting to fall.
The biggest of the domino drops has already occurred in the northwest.
For years, the booming industry of ranching in North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming has been dominated by the ranchers of the Powder River Basin.
Now, in many parts of the state, the number of ranches is down to a fraction of what it once was.
“The last year we’ve seen a big decline,” said Matt Waugh, a senior vice president with The Texas Association of Realtors, an industry group.
“There is a lot of angst out there.”
The decline has been driven by the economic downturn and a lack of federal funding, according to Chris Feltgen, a partner at Texas investment firm Wunderlich & Co. “They are seeing the downturn of the oil industry, but they are seeing a lot more land sold,” he said.
Feltger said he believes that in many places, the loss of federal support has had a big impact.
“People are looking for more and more options,” he added.
But many of the major buyers of ranch land are Chinese.
They are purchasing the properties that ranchers used to own, buying them at a discount.
The sale price of a typical ranch can range from $2 million to $5 million, said Bob Smith, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.
He said many of these Chinese buyers are coming to the state to capitalize on an oil boom.
In a statement, the agency said it has been “working with the Chinese government to protect the rights of rancher and ranch community members.”
But in the Powder, the situation is far more dire.
A state of emergency has been declared and local authorities have declared a state of crisis.
“I’m not surprised at all, because we have had a few people selling their property in the past,” said Jeff Rader, president of the North Dakota Farm Bureau, which represents more than 2,000 ranchers in the state.
You have to do it with a lot. “
It’s very difficult to sell your property.
It’s just a case of money being taken out of the community.” “
But there is no real reason for them to come to North Dakota.
It’s just a case of money being taken out of the community.”
Rader said the situation was particularly bad in northern North Dakota because of a drought that started in mid-March.
The drought was so severe that the state of North Dakota lost more than 70 percent of its farmland.
The severe weather also led to some of the worst flooding seen in decades in parts of southern North Dakota and northwestern Iowa.
“You have to get the people to come down and look at the property, because they are going to make the right decisions about whether they want to sell or not,” Rader added.
“Some people are saying that they’re willing to sell but the property is still worth a lot.”
The state is offering a $250,000 loan for any ranchers who decide to sell.
That loan is aimed at helping people buy the property they own in North and Central Dakota.
But it also could be used to buy other properties in the area.
“For people who are willing to pay, they can get that property and put it in a new home, so the value can go up,” Smith said.
“We don’t have any incentives for them not to do that.”
The sale of land in the southwest is particularly tough, because there are so many Chinese buyers and because many of them are in their 20s or 30s, Smith said, and many of those people are not in the position to buy properties on their own.
“In some cases, they don’t know any better than they do the other buyers in the community,” he explained.
“And we have a problem with the state doing its best to help them.”
“The fact is, you’re taking the land and selling it for the price that you’re getting for the land,” said Smith.
“Even if you have an option, the other buyer is going to take that option and sell.”
In an interview, Feltge, of Wunderich &!
Co., said that there are several factors that have made ranchers sell.
The state has not been paying for water infrastructure, which is needed to keep grass fed and to keep water out of streams.
There are also the challenges of a changing climate.
The land has to be able to handle the cold weather and it has to have access to the water that the land can use, Fischt said.
That can be difficult when the land is on the water.
And some of those problems are due to human activities.
“A lot of times it’s just