Cheshire West and Chester Council plans to sell off its estate of 47 small farms.
It is making the move after the executive decided the returns were too low and that the farms were not serving their purpose of offering new starters a way into farming.
The farms have been taken on by just "one or two" people a year and given the council an annual return of £250,000, or 0.8%, compared to 5-8% on other assets.
The council said it could raise £31m from the sale of 4,600 acres which it will use to help rural businesses. Tenant farmers will get the first opportunity to buy at market prices.
Cllr Moore Dutton, corporate scrutiny chairman, said: "I believe that by utilising some of the tens of millions of pounds that are currently tied up in county farms we could create, or facilitate many more opportunities for rural business start ups.
"We could also invest in other ways that would make our rural areas more competitive and productive, like faster broadband and affordable housing."
She added: "I believe that the number of people who could benefit from these opportunities would be many times greater and that many of those people would be country people."
The farms will be sold off over the next 30 years to secure the maximum value, according to the council.
At the meeting Cllr Mark Stocks voiced concern about the sale of such assets.
He said: "Agricultural land is rising in price – it's Cheshire gold… and we are not growing any more of it."
He was also worried about the sale of the land for development. A report prepared for the executive said the sale was "unlikely" to lead to a significant change from agricultural land use.
Cheshire County Council launched the County Farms Service in March 1908, with the idea of providing starter units to would-be farmers who did not have the capital to buy their own land.
Today the 47 tenants have farms ranging in size from 35 to 190 acres.
Before the local government reorganisation in 2008 when the county was split into two authorities, it had 120 farms covering 10,000 acres.