URBANA -- The University of Illinois is starting a new center to study the financial aspects of farmland.
University trustees voted Thursday to create the TIAA-CREF Center for Farmland Research. TIAA-CREF is a financial services company and is spending $5 million over three years to pay for the new center, which is expected to sustain itself financially after that.
Steadily rising prices have made farmland an increasingly popular investment in recent years. Those prices have also increased the value of many farmers' assets while at the same time making it harder for some to add acreage or for young farmers to get started.
The university's Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics has a long history of studying farmland values and their effect on the agricultural economy.