It’s not often that more than a dozen square miles of Illinois farmland come to market at one time, but that’s exactly what happened last December.
The 46 tracts were spread out over two counties, just east of the Iowa state line. Some tracts bordered the Mississippi River; others, the Illinois River.
R.D. Schrader and his team at Schrader Auctions spent months preparing: mapping the tracts, getting aerial footage, digging down into the legal specs, and making sure as many qualified buyers as possible were on hand.
“When you’re selling this much land, you naturally want to get the larger institutional investors and funds involved,” said Schrader. “As it turned out, we had one buyer [Farmland Partners] for all the land. But it’s important to reach the local operators as well and give them every opportunity.”
Schrader’s efforts paid off handsomely. On December 12, 64 registered bidders showed up at Western Illinois University in Macomb.
Although many bidders eyed individual tracts, the auction quickly became a two-horse race. Denver-based Farmland Partners emerged victorious, paying $55.3 million, or $6,400 per acre. At press time, the publicly traded company (FPI) owned 152,000 acres of high-quality farmland throughout North America.
“These two farms … represent a truly unique investment opportunity in the Midwest,” said Farmland Partners Executive Chairman and CEO Paul Pittman. “We expect significant long-term appreciation on these properties due to their size and the incredibly efficient operating environment we expect to provide to our tenants.