The Omaha-based Farmers National Company is merging with a similar firm in Indiana. Vice-President Jerry Warner says F-N-C represents people who own farmland but don’t operate it on a day-to-day basis. Many owners FNC represents have inherited a farm and keep it to pass on to the next generation, and they hold it as an investment, and a source of income. Other clients have purchased farmland specifically as an investment, to diversify their other holdings. He says the farm-management business began back in the 1930s when people were leaving farmland and the land needed someone “to take care of it,” and Warner says today about 50-percent of the farmland in the Midwest is owned by someone other than the people farming it. Farmers National got its start when people simply people walked away from failing farms during the Depression and Dust Bowl of the “Dirty Thirties,” he says.Since that time he says there’s been a gradual exodus — fewer people living on the land, but the farms are still there and many are owned by the same families that had them two or three generations ago. The owners can use help in choosing how to operate the land, and Warner says experts are trained to make such decisions as:Can I lease it, should I consider custom farming it? — that’s where a professional manager fits in, to help them understand what a farm’s worth and what options they have. While Farmcraft operates in Indiana and eastern Illinois, FNC is the larger partner in this merger. FNC is in 22 Midwestern states, so adding Farmcraft will strengthen its base in the eastern cornbelt, and together they’ll manage about 3,800 farms. In addition to operating farms, the company advises owners on things like oil and gas on their land, water rights, conservation, recreation and hunting, and buying and selling land. Listed on its website at www.farmers-national.com currently are upcoming sales of ten farms around Council Bluffs and a 7400-acre ranch at Lodgepole, Nebraska.