OGALLALA, Neb. – One of Nebraska’s largest farms fetched $37,555,000 in bids at auction Thursday.
The auction of Thomas Land Co., a 28,645-acre operation featuring grassland overlooking Lake McConaughy, attracted more than 300 people and lasted nearly seven hours.
The 45 square miles of farm and ranch land would roughly cover Omaha from the Missouri River on the east to Interstate 680 on the west, between Dodge Street and the Douglas-Sarpy county line along Harrison Street.
In the end, 19 bidders at the Keith County Fairgrounds in Ogallala were alone at the top of the leader board for the farm’s 50 parcels spread across Keith, Perkins and Deuel counties. The average per acre price was $1,405.
Auctioneer Spanky Assiter of Canyon, Texas, said Lola Thomas, the farm’s owner, was expected to accept most, if not all, bids.
Thomas, who lives in Miami Beach, Florida, attended the auction. She and her late husband, Michael Thomas, put together the farm and ranch operation starting in 2005. Michael Thomas was a 1958 graduate of Ogallala High School. He died at age 74 in 2015.
Hall and Hall Auctions in Eaton Colorado, advertised the farm as a significant opportunity for both passive investors seeking a rental opportunity and active ranchers and farmers looking for a prime operation or a major expansion.
The winning bidders appeared to represent agricultural interests, not recreational investors, said Bill Sheridan of Mason, Michigan, who helped with the sale.
The sale featured 26,739 deeded acres and 1,906 leased acres. It included 3,647 acres of irrigated land, 11,705 dryland acres and 13,293 acres of ranchland. The grassland, plus hay and harvested cropland, provides grazing and feed for 1,250 cow-calf pairs.
Twenty-seven center-pivot irrigation systems water the irrigated corn and soybean land.
Nebraska has about 49,100 farms and ranches. The average operation consists of about 920 acres. Ranches in western Nebraska’s cattle country typically are significantly larger.