…and somehow the Tribune can’t see it. Today’s edition carries Jason George’s article Cashing in on the Hunt, noting that a lot of farmland is valuable for hunting. OK, it’s tough to make a living as a farmer, so farmers are getting from $25 to $50 per acre (in Pike County) for allowing hunters to use their land. So far, so good, this probably isn’t the best farmland anyhow. (George doesn’t clearly explain whether the same land can be farmed during the summer, then used for hunting in the late fall, but I believe that it can.)
A local farmer, who’s also a real estate agent, says that the revenue “really helps pay those real estate taxes.” It would make you think that real estate taxes are more than the hunting revenue. Not so. Correlating 2003 data from the Illinois Department of Revenue and the 2002 U S Census of Agriculture, Pike County farms pay less than $12/acre in real estate taxes, an effective rate of about 2/3 of 1% on value ($1840/acre). I bet Chicago-area homeowners, who pay two to three times this percentage of value (see this report), would love to have such a deal.
The Tribune, who in the past have done a good job of explaining how farmland owners profit from political favors, missed a chance to point it out.
Unfortunately, it is the custom of the Tribune to hide most of their articles behind a paid-subscriber screen after a week or so. I can’t find any other publications who carried this article, but it contains the phrase “whirring wings of pheasants” which might be useful in a future search.
Update on December 6: The Tribune link (above) still works!