Ford County accepts highest bids ever for county-owned farms

PAXTON — Farmland owned by Ford County will be leased for the next two years for the highest amount ever.

At a public auction Wednesday, cash-rent leases for three county-owned farms were awarded for a total of $122,860 per year — an increase of $34,740 from the winning bids from two years ago.

“We get more every time,” county board member Floyd “Bud” Otto Jr. of rural Roberts said after conducting the auction at the Ford County Courthouse. “I think the high crop prices are making them go up.”

The current two-year leases for the three farms expire Nov. 30. Bids were accepted at the auction for two-year leases running from Dec. 1 through Nov. 30, 2014.

Dave Ebert of Onarga had the winning bid for two of the farms, while he and his father, Roger, had the winning bid for the third farm. The Eberts own property in Paxton, they said.

Dave Ebert’s winning bid of $410 an acre for the Ford County Nursing Home Farm was $100 more per acre than under the current lease. The farmland, consisting of 104 acres in Patton Township north of Paxton, is currently being leased by Greg Brucker of Sibley for $310 per acre. Bidding started at $280 per acre and stopped at $410 after no one raised the bid to $415.

Dave Ebert also had the winning bid for the Hatfield/Bowen Farm, consisting of 154 acres in Button Township on the north side of Pit Road (County Road 200N). Ebert’s bid of $210 per acre was up from $150 an acre under the current lease, which Ebert holds. Bidding started at $140. The acreage includes 26 acres of pasture.

Both Dave and Roger Ebert had the winning bid for the Bowen/Grider Farm, consisting of 152 acres in Button Township on the south side of Pit Road. Their bid of $315 an acre was up from $215 in the current lease, held by Brucker. Bidding started at $185 and ended at $315 after no one would raise the bid to $320.

As authorized by the full county board, the board’s overview committee accepted the bids at the conclusion of the auction, and the leases were signed.

For each year of the two-year contract, the lessees are required to pay 25 percent of the rent by Dec. 1. The balance is due no later than March 1 each year, Otto said.

The bids do not include an additional $11-per-acre fee assessed for the county providing limestone to maintain the soil’s acidity levels, Otto said.

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