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Article Abstract

SOIL FOR SALE In the 11th month of the year in which tax rates are certainly not going to fall, there's a "rush" to sell farmland, Jim Farrell, president and CEO of Omaha (Neb.)-based Farmers National Co., tells colleague David Peligal. Yet, curiously, Farrell relates, there is a corresponding rush to buy. Now unfolding is a new chapter in the bull-market saga of American agricultural property. Many are the farmers' blessings this Thanksgiving eve. Stunted INTEREST RATEs, hungry foreigners and the congressional ethanol mandate have contributed their mite to the making of $7 corn, $14 soybeans and $2.40 pecans. Down on the farm, there's lots of cash and a manageable burden of debt. These are the good old days. IMAGE1 Hearing the proverbial ducks quack, Wexford Capital, Greenwich, Conn., has lately sold the bulk of its agricultural portfolio, including 19,500 acres near North Platte, Neb., for which it paid a little over $2,666 an acre in 2007. Seller and buyer (or, rather, buyers, consisting of four state-financed natural resource districts) shook hands at a price of $4,256 an acre. If sellers are rushing to deal ahead of tax legislation, as Farrell observes, why are the buyers buying? "People are still looking for hard assets," he relates. "They're concerned about this election. They're concerned about the fact that Congress can't get their act together enough to make a decision that goes beyond the next six months. And I think all of that concern has been weighing on this market since 2008 ...

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