Most farmers have little debt and, unless strapped for cash, keep their land for income, retirement and their heirs.

"There's a lack of good alternative investments and lower interest rates," says Loyd A. Brown, president of Hertz Farm Management. He says sales, listings and auctions are off by a third because farmers don't know what to do with the cash after a sale.

The higher prices convinced Boston financial adviser Frederick J. Gillis III to sell his farm land. He had bought various pieces a few years ago because he wanted to diversify his portfolio and to invest for his daughter's college education. In five years, he got more than $320,000 for his $190,000 investment on one piece of land.

He recommends that potential investors get to know the area and use a reputable farm management company.


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