Bloomington, IL (March 19, 2024) According to the USDA Agricultural Economic Research Service and the USDA 2015 Census of Agriculture, Illinois boasts 27 million acres of farmland, with 15.88 million acres, or almost 60%, owned by absentee landowners (owners who don’t operate or live on the farmland). As the largest manager of absentee-owned farmland in the state, First Mid Ag Services, a division of First Mid Wealth Management, is offering recommendations to absentee landowners during National Agriculture Month on how to best manage their assets.

Brian Thompson, President of First Mid Ag Services, said absentee landowners play a vital role in supporting local economies through the jobs and local tax money the land generates. His team’s goal is to help absentee landowners navigate through any ownership challenges they may be facing and find the best solutions to keep the land. He said goals may include things such as land asset preservation, conservation, production of income, asset diversification, or passing the farmland on to the next generation. In some cases, the absentee owners may be trying to work through challenges such as the inheritance of farmland by one or more family members, a lack of knowledge of farming/conservation practices, or how to cash rent the land to other farmers. Thompson said in many cases, absentee owners don’t realize resources are available to help them make decisions.

“To start, we always look at the goals of the absentee landowner,” Thompson said. “Every situation is different. Some people have siblings, sometimes there are multiple owners, and there are many different options an absentee landowner can take. Those landowners might need to decide how they want to preserve their land for future generations, what to do with the land in the meantime, how to put the land in a trust, what seed to use, which fertilizer is best, what farm operator to use, how to rent the farmland to the operator, and so much more. Many people may not know our services exist.”

Thompson added while agricultural services management might be a lesser-known profession, it draws its roots from the 1930s and the Great Depression when there was a significant amount of financial and social turmoil. At the time, absentee farm ownership provided an element of stability to agriculture. Farm management advisors brought practical agricultural guidance along with a financial and accounting background that helped many local farms survive. Today, Thompson said farm managers continue to take the same ‘boots on the ground’ approach.

“This is not a job you can do from your desk,” said Thompson. “When I started 40 years ago, I was just out of college, and I went out with an absentee landowner to talk to the farm operator. The landowner asked the farmer what he thought of me. The farmer said, ‘He looks a little young but when I saw him hand-probing the tile (drainage system), I knew he would be alright.’ Physically going out and working on the farm is an important part of what we do, and what all great farm managers do.”

Thompson said farmland is an increasingly valuable asset, with the value of farmland currently near a record high. Although Thompson generally advises landowners to try to hold on to farmland whenever possible for asset diversification, part of his team’s goal is to also ensure that if the landowner decides to sell, they get a market price. As licensed state real estate brokers in Illinois, First Mid Ag Services sold over $100 million worth of land each year for the past three years.

First Mid Ag Services has six regional offices throughout Illinois in Bloomington, (Principal Real Estate Office) Decatur, Kankakee, Mattoon, Peoria, and Springfield. The team includes 24 farm managers/Illinois licensed real estate brokers who combine their unique skill sets to represent the absentee farmland owners they serve.


About First Mid Bancshares, Inc.: First Mid Bancshares, Inc. is the parent company of First Mid Bank & Trust, N.A., First Mid Insurance Group, and First Mid Wealth Management Company. First Mid is an $7.6 billion community-focused organization that provides financial services including banking, insurance, wealth management, brokerage, and ag services through a network of locations in Illinois, Missouri, Texas, and Wisconsin, and a loan production office in Indiana. Together, our First Mid team takes great pride in providing solutions and services to our customers and communities and has done so since 1865. More information about the Company is available on our website at Our stock is traded in The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC under the ticker symbol “FMBH”. Member FDIC | Equal Housing Lender.