Demand for U.S. farmland has jumped to a five-year high, spurred on by a profitable grain market and a boost in buyer interest from both farm operators and land investors, according to an agricultural real estate and farm management company which has sold more than $1.2 billion in real estate over the last four years.

“There are a number of factors driving this increasing demand, which we see continuing into 2011,” said Lee Vermeer, AFM, vice president of real estate operations at Farmers National Company.

“Jumps in commodity prices are increasing profitability of land as an investment. Landowners are using the profits to increase land acquisitions. They are investing in their own operations as land values are stabilizing and in many cases increasing.”

Vermeer said that while increasing values are boosting the interest in farmland by investors, farm operators account for 85 percent of buyers.

“Farmland purchases have also become an attractive investment for non-operators in this environment,” said Vermeer. “It’s definitely showing a more favorable return on investment than traditional investments like the stock market and certificates of deposit (CDs).”

While demand rose sharply during the last quarter of 2010, the supply of available farmland fell to historically low levels.

The best deals for the money appear to be in the Mid-South, according to the company. Here’s a closer look by region: