WALKER - The Cass County Board has taken one more step toward withdrawing from leasing county land by voting to eliminate leases to farmers for haying.
Instead, the county will offer harvesting permits, selling cutting rights for hay like the county does with timber harvest for loggers. County liability is a primary reason for dropping the lease system.
Farmers will be invited to bid at auction each March for hay-cutting contracts on county land. In drought years, there will be a subsequent auction for haying rights in July on marshlands that, in normally wet years, could not be cut.
The county has been charging $5 per acre for haying leases since the 1980s. The new cutting rights auction will increase minimum bid prices to $15 per acre.
Cass discontinued leasing county land for animal grazing about 15 years ago and eliminated cabin lot leases about 10 years ago. The county also has discontinued leasing land for gun ranges.
The county sold $138,007.49 worth of timber from county land to loggers at a July 31 auction. Price paid for aspen has dropped to $25.63 per cord from an average of $30 earlier this year. Red oak and birch brought only about $15 per cord.
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