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Hanson Farm auction, biggest in history, sets new benchmark for land prices for southeast Sask.

Hanson Farm auction wrapped up on Jan. 26, establishing a record as the biggest farm auction in Ritchie Bros. history anywhere in the world, and also setting a new watermark for farmland in southeast Saskatchewan

ESTEVAN - The Hanson Farm family's unreserved land and equipment online sale on Jan. 25-26 became the biggest farm auction worldwide in Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers history.

On top of that, the event, which was followed by thousands of people all across Canada and abroad, set a new land price benchmark for the southeast.

Brandon Basler, the agriculture territory manager for southeast Saskatchewan with Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers, said the auction brought in a few good surprises.

"The Hanson Family Farm auction was a tremendous success. We knew it was going to be big, but we are proud to say it was the largest farm auction in Ritchie Brothers' history. So setting the record there. And we're just happy that the Hanson family trusted us to put on this monumental event," Basler said in the interview with the Mercury.

"One thing that was definitely of note is how this land sold. It blew out of the water, (set a new) watermark for land prices in the area," said Basler.

"We knew it was great land, and it came from a great family and there was a lot of interest. But definitely when the dust settled, there was some pretty remarkable results and it set a new watermark for farmland in the area for sure."

The large majority of Hansons' farmland sold for over $400,000 a quarter, and Basler said "as far as I know, it is completely uncharted territory, as there was a lot of numbers that started with fours and some that even started with five."

Kirby Hanson said their family was happy about the results and had a big celebration in the Torquay bar on the day of the land sale.

"It was exciting the last couple of days. The results at the end of the bidding were very, very good, we are happy with the results," said Kirby in the phone interview with the Mercury the day after the sale closed.

He added that his father, Lorne Hanson, who dedicated most of his life to farming, was watching the auction from Arizona with his friends, and was happy with the results as well.

While the auction marked the retirement of the three generations of Hansons from farming, it also surprisingly resulted in high activity and consequently growth for other local farmers. Basler said about 95 per cent of the land was sold locally. There was some interest from big investors from outside of the area, as well from other provinces, but things went a different way.

"I feel that we had literally hundreds of phone calls from you name it, all across Canada and investors. There was a tonne of interest. There was interest from people from all over, from larger operations from outside of the southeast or outside of Saskatchewan," Basler shared.

"But I guess one interesting result from the sale is that the majority, the good majority actually stayed with local farmers. I think off the top of my head, over 95 per cent of the land was bought by local southeast Saskatchewan farmers from the area," Basler said.

Kirby also noted that in the weeks ahead of the auction he probably "talked to every farmer in Canada." Interest was coming from Manitoba, Alberta, B.C., all over the U.S. as well as other parts of Saskatchewan, but the neighbours ended up buying most of the land.

"The neighbours wanted it more, and it turned out good," Kirby said. "I'm glad they got it."

The equipment sale also went great, and that was somewhat expected.

"The equipment sold excellent as well. I think anybody that's involved in agriculture would know there's a bit of a supply and demand issue and good quality used equipment is hard to come by right now, from the new staff to newer used equipment … and there's a huge demand for it. So with Hansons having a lot of late-model equipment, it brought a premium for sure," Basler noted.

While online timed auctions are something widely used by auctioneers these days, this particular sale highlighted some of the new tendencies.

"One thing with our timed the auction format, it was open five days early. So there was some early bidding activity on a lot of parcels. But what we've come to learn from our customers and the people that use our website and the timed doctrine is a lot of people wait till the last minute to get their bids in. Things started closing at 10 a.m. And every time somebody bid, it extended the time. And it extended with people still bidding for over three hours," Basler pointed out.

The hopper bins that are a big part of the home quarter setup were sold separately, so the Torquay area will see some changes to the landmark at some point. 

Basler thanked the family for having the Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers conduct the sale.

"On behalf of Ritchie Brothers, we just thank the Hanson family, Kirby, Lorne and Charlene for putting their trust in us to conduct this auction. It was certainly uncharted territories for us and across the board, as it was the largest farm auction ever conducted by Ritchie Brothers anywhere in the world. We appreciate them trusting us to help them with their retirement and couldn't be happier with how things went," Basler said.

Kirby noted that they as well had a positive experience with the auction.

"It was very professionally run. There wasn't one hiccup along the way. They know how to do it and everything just fell into place. Very, very good auctioneer company. We had bids from all over the world and everyone was watching, it seemed like," Kirby said.

The Estevan Mercury and will have more details and totals of the auction once they become available.

For more agriculture stories from Southeast Saskatchewan, check out the On The Farm special publication.