Farm Management Program Changes

The University has had the good fortune over the years to acquire roughly 10,000 acres of farmland through gifts from alumni and other supporters who share our commitment to education and discovery.  As a land-grant university with deep roots in an agricultural state, it has been our privilege to steward those farms and we take pride in managing them responsibly. Our management approach has varied over time, and most recently centered on cash bids in an effort to maximize income for initiatives such as scholarships, 4-H programs and research.

When Kim Kidwell became dean of Urbana-Champaign’s College of ACES last year, she encouraged us to take a fresh look at how we approach operator selection and other issues connected to management and oversight of our farmlands. Since then, we have received input from the Illinois Farm Bureau and others in the farming community, as well as from faculty in the College of ACES and others across the U of I System with years of experience in overseeing our farmland management practices.

Based on that review, we are adopting a new approach going forward that will emphasize selecting the most qualified operator rather than just the highest bidder. 

That “best candidate” approach will assess applicants based on a wide range of factors such as their experience in farming, their records as careful stewards of land, their educational background and whether their use of modern agricultural technology and machinery best fits the parcel of land that is available. The most qualified applicant will then be offered the operating contract at a predetermined rate based on local market conditions. 

Our new approach aligns more closely with farming practices and culture in Illinois, which emphasizes building strong relationships and careful stewardship of our fertile cropland. Our goal is to integrate community values with best management practices to best serve the interests of our donors, to achieve the best long-term value of the endowments, to steward the land responsibly and to support Illinois agriculture by our example.

President Tim Killeen
Board of Trustees meeting, Sept. 7, 2017

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Additional Resources

Investment and Management of Farm Properties, OBFS website