Published: Nov 08, 2013 4:52 PM EST

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - One of Florida's largest private landowners is selling vast tracts of Panhandle timberland to a company affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
    
The deal by the St. Joe Company to sell nearly 400,000 acres to AgReserves means that the Mormon church is poised to be the state's largest private landowner. The deal is worth an estimated $565 million.
    
The church already owns a large cattle ranch in central Florida.
    
At one point, St. Joe planned to develop its vast holdings that stretch across the Panhandle. But the Great Recession led to massive losses for the company.
    
The land being sold by St. Joe is outside of its existing residential and commercial development areas. AgReserves intends to use the land for agricultural purposes and to grow timber.

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