CHICAGO, March 11 Demand for U.S. farmland remains strong this winter, with an Illinois farm selling for $15,375 an acre, a record high for a central Illinois county, the auction company said on Monday.
The 173-acre farm was auctioned last week in Champaign County - a top yielding corn and soybean region - in the center of the U.S. Corn Belt.
"This is first time in Champaign County we've seen a sale top $15,000 that didn't have some development component associated with it. This was just a farm," said Joe Bubon, executive vice president of Murray Wise Associates, a farm auction and real estate company based in Champaign.
Farmland values in the central United States are closely tracked by government economists as a gauge of the U.S. farm economy and health of the banking system.
In recent years prices for both crops and farmland have soared to all-time highs as the burgeoning biofuels industry and record food exports spotlighted the value of hard assets. Additionally, record low interest rates make farmland attractive to investors.
"A lot of farmers have money in their pockets to spend. Couple that with a historically low supply of farmland available - that drives the market up," Bubon said.
Farmers and investors were bidding for the central Illinois farm. The high bidder was a farmer, who ultimately sold part of the property to another farmer, part to an investor and kept the rest for himself, Bubon said.
Bubon could not disclose the name of the buyers.