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BLACKFOOT – The lease on 120 acres of farm land owned by Bingham County at McDonaldville north of Groveland was awarded last week to Brent and Taylor Harper, who have been farming the land under a 10-year lease for which they paid $135 per acre.

That lease expires at the end of the 2019 crop year, and the county advertised for bids on a new lease of five years. Only two bids were received, one from the Harpers and the other from Groveland resident Todd Mickelsen.

Mickelsen’s bid was for $160 per acre, but since the Harpers were the current lessees they were allowed to meet the bid. They submitted a second bid of $165 and were awarded the lease.

County Commission Chairman Whitney Manwaring said the 120-acre property was purchased several years ago by the county to be mined for gravel. He said some was mined on the northwest corner, but it was deemed to be of poor quality. The commissioners then decided that it would benefit the county more to lease the land out for farming.

Since then, Manwaring said, the quality of the gravel has been reassessed and found to be “very good.” He said the Harpers placed a center pivot sprinkler irrigation system on the property and need time to recoup their investment, but the length of the lease was shortened in case the county has need of the gravel.