Sunday, November 04, 2007

Straws in the Wind--Uof Illinois

John Phipps comments on a policy change by the University of Illinois, which owns 11,000 acres of farmland (from donations) and has been share leasing the land. They've decided to switch to cash leasing, which means putting the lease out for bids, and may price the past operators out of the market. See this article, via John.

The Illinois Farm Bureau is opposed to the policy change.

John comes down on the side of the right of the owner to rent to whom he chooses.

Random observations:
  • the article comments that 3/4 of the IL farmland is rented, which is higher than I would have guessed.
  • There's no comment in the article about the possible role of payment limitation rules. UofIL would no longer be eligible for farm payments when they cash lease. I don't know what the current rules are, but educational institutions used to be exempt from payment limitation. According to EWG, the university got $450K in 2005. I don't know how they might be affected by the pending proposals.
  • John mentions the outdated notion that a leasor's labor and improvements gave him some sort of moral ownership of the land. That ties back to Ireland, whence came many of my ancestors, where you couldn't buy land and the best you could hope for was a long term lease. If I'm not mistaken, the English passed a law giving the tenant some right to his improvements. It also goes back to western New York in the early 1800's, where people hoping to buy land from the Holland Land Company also felt they had a right to their improvements. Unrest reached such a point that a Company's office in Mayville, NY was burned, destroying all the records.

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