Exclusive: Spotlight on AgIS and Reflections of an Asset Class Pioneer – Jeff Conrad
October 24, 2017
It was recently reported that the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) has engaged Boston-based private equity firm AgIS to manage a $150 million farmland separate account.
The entire account will be invested in U.S. farmland assets, and AgIS is being given full autonomous control of the management of the capital.
This action marks the first time this U.S. pension fund has engaged a firm to manage a separate account in the ag investment space, and is reflective of the caliber of AgIS and its founder, Jeff Conrad, who will be the keynote speaker at our 10th annual Global AgInvesting conference in New York in 2018.
Born and raised on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania, Conrad went on to attend Penn State University and to study agricultural business management and agricultural economics at Cornell University. In 1990 he founded, and was subsequently president of Hancock Agricultural Investment Group (HAIG), a globally renown organization that grew to control more than $2 billion in properties and capital on behalf of institutional investors.
During his tenure with HAIG, noticing that the farmland investment class lacked a proper benchmark, Conrad co-chaired the establishment of the NCREIF Farmland Index in 1995. Today the NCREIF is a widely relied-upon tool that includes data from 743 agricultural properties with a combined market value of $8 billion as of December 31, 2016. And as the asset class has matured, so has the NCREIF with it – now able to offer insight into the performance of agricultural properties by crop type – whether row or permanent crop – and by commodity type, or management structure.
After retiring from HAIG in 2011, Conrad re-entered the ring, launching Boston-based private equity firm AgIS in 2013. As an employee-owned firm, AgIS has raised approximately $1 billion in capital commitments from institutional investors, which the firm and its team have managed across a range of hybrid investment opportunities in both farmland and associated operations that exploit inefficiencies and disconnects within the ag sector, resulting in superior risk-adjusted returns.
As someone who has been a pioneer and innovative leader in the ag investment space for decades, Jeff Conrad has a holistic view of the asset class that few can match. The following is the first release of an exclusive AgIS corporate profile of Conrad, in which he reflects on his years in the industry and how the ag investment space has evolved as a dynamic asset class.
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