Nearly 1,000 acres of high-quality farmland are expected to turn into millions of dollars in donations to Illinois Wesleyan University and two other nonprofits during a highly anticipated auction Tuesday.
The Frevert family’s 930 acres are split into 12 tracts near Stanford. With no heirs after Cyril “C.B.” Frevert’s death in 2017, the land will be sold at an auction that’s attracted interest from local farmers, farm investors, and even foreign investors, according to Frevert family trustee Jeff Lee.
“It reminds me of selling a fine art collection,” said auctioneer Don Meyer, who will run Tuesday’s program. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for someone to pick up a piece of land that’s very high quality. This family, as they accumulated these parcels of land over these last 100 or so years, obviously knew what they were looking for because we know now based on today’s science that these were very high-quality soils.”
A few years ago, high-quality farmland like this was selling for $14,000 or $15,000 an acre, Meyer said. More recently farmland prices have trended lower as commodity prices have fallen, Lee said.
Still, Tuesday’s auction could yield as much as $3 million to $4 million each for IWU and the two other beneficiaries: Home Sweet Home Mission and the Salvation Army.
“That’s a pretty strong gift to a charity, because he had no heirs to give it to, and it’s going to good causes,” said Meyer, who previously ran the Extension service in McLean County.
C.B. Frevert studied music education at IWU and played the organ for many churches in the Bloomington-Normal area. IWU’s share will benefit the School of Music. Frevert and his mother, Allie, support Home Sweet Home throughout their lives. The Salvation Army gift was made in memory of C.B.’s parents, Cyril A. Frevert and Allie, with the proceeds being donated to the Hometown Community Endowments of Bloomington and Port Charlotte, Fla.
“It was a pleasure to represent C.B. during his life and an even greater honor to see his wishes being carried out through the sale of his family’s legacy farmland in McLean County, with the proceeds being donated in such a meaningful way,” said attorney Thomas Herr, who represents the Cyril B. Frevert Trust. He said the three beneficiaries were “near and dear to C.B. and these substantial gifts will benefit many people for generations to come.”
Meyer said Tuesday’s auction is highly anticipated in the McLean County agriculture community. Others waited to schedule their own auctions until after Frevert’s, to see who buys and for how much.
“It’s been a market influencer for perhaps the past 12 months,” Meyer said.
Uncertainty about trade—especially for soybeans—has loomed over local farmers, Meyer said. But there are positive influences too, including a strong crop and good fall weather in 2018, he said.
“I’m not sure what our market is. But that’s why we like the auction format, because it’s sort of a good indicator of where we are today,” Meyer said.
The auction is set for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Conference Center in Bloomington.
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