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The Farm that Abe Lincoln Owned

A 30-acre farm in Coles County, Illinois once owned by Abraham Lincoln recently sold at auction.  The big question going into the sale was whether or not there would be a premium paid for that connection.  Local farm appraisers and brokers had mixed thoughts going into the sale varying from no premium or possibly a slightly premium due to the increased interest. 

The farm was well marketed and had several articles in local newspapers about the Lincoln connection leading up to the sale. The sale date of February 12, the 16th U.S. President’s birthday no less, was a nice touch. But did it matter to the buyers in the market?

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What happens without a written lease?

For 20 years, Nathan farmed his neighbor’s 160-acre Class A farm on a handshake. Two years ago, Nathan convinced his neighbors that their farm could use some new tile to improve the productivity and value. He agreed to pay for the tile project with the agreement that he could rent the farm for $200 per acre for the next seven years. In every way, it was a fair deal and all parties agreed to it.

You can likely guess where this is going.

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Should you enroll land in CRP?

Highest and best use is an appraisal term defined as the reasonably probable and legal use of land that is physically possible, appropriately supported, financially feasible and results in the highest value.   For most Midwest farmland the highest and best use is simple: the production of agricultural products, mainly corn and soybeans.  But what about the more marginal land such as floodplain land, poor soils and/or timber and pasture?  The answer is not as easy.

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Does adding tile add value to farmland?

There are plenty of benefits to adding drainage tile to farmland.   Better yields, more timely field work, and higher land values are the most well-known benefits.   It is easy to prove higher yields using yield maps and scale tickets and more timely field work should be noticeable to the farm operator.   However, proving the increase in value can be more difficult. 

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