MUNCIE (AP) — More than 800 acres of prime farm land in Delaware County sold during open bidding on Tuesday for $7.9 million.
John Paugh, CEO of an Anderson trucking company, out-bid a group of five other bidders for the 14 tracts in western Delaware County, 10 of which are contiguous and total 557 acres, and one tract in eastern Madison County.
The price per acre was $9,482.
About 150 people attended the auction at the Horizon Convention Center, but only six were still bidding at the end, The Star Press reported.
Like most in the audience, Charles McCarty, an appraiser with Rabo AgriFinance in Indianapolis, dropped in out of curiosity.
"I'm just here to judge the mood of the market," McCarty said, "to see if there will be big demand and interest or if people will sit on their hands and watch it not sell."
There was big demand.
Purdue University's latest annual farm land value survey found that the highest quality farm land in the state increased 19 percent in value between 2012 and 2013 to $9,177 per acre. Tuesday's auction topped that figure.
High net farm income combined with favorable interest rates, strong farm land demand and a limited supply of farm land for sale pushed farm land values higher last year. The next farm land value survey won't be published until August.
"We appreciate your interest; if you're done, we're done," auctioneer R.D. Schrader said after the bidding reached $7.5 million. "Anybody else?"
After Paugh bid $7.7 million, Schrader told a group of five bidders that was bidding on a combination of tracts, "You've got 2 minutes to beat $7.7 million."
The bids kept climbing until Paugh bid $7.9 million.
"I'm going to give you 2 minutes starting now to beat $7.9 million," Schrader said as the clock ticked down. "Thirty-five seconds, yes or no? Anybody else? Fifteen seconds. Ten, nine, eight ... sold, sold, sold!"