The Sustainable Farm Lease website and corresponding “Landowner’s Guide” are primarily intended to provide information and resources to landowners.  Much of the emphasis in this endeavor focuses on utilizing lease arrangements that encourage sustainable practices by farm tenants. It is not the intention of the project to imply that farmers are less concerned about conservation and sustainability or that all farmers are poor stewards of the land. However, it is important to recognize the economic and contractual restraints often placed on farm operators. It is for this reason, these efforts have focused on landowners and their ability to affect lease contracts, and other forms of tenure arrangements.

Of course, though, resources for the development of sustainable farm leases would be incomplete without at lease one section focusing on how farm operators can gain the necessary investment protections and required resources to provide the type of stewardship they desire. The rest of the guide, while primarily addressing landowner concerns, is of value to tenants as well. It hopefully provides a mechanism for beginning a discussion with landowners on important conservation practices and issues concerning the operation’s sustainability. However, the sections below focus specifically on steps a concerned farmer may take to improve the sustainability of the land while maintaining a profitable and secure lease arrangement.

Gaining a long-term lease

Communication is important to the landlord-tenant relationship, but the saying, “Talk is cheap,” holds some merit when convincing a landowner to enter a long-term lease. If you can show a landlord what you can do for their land, they are likely to be more receptive to a long-term lease. Inviting the landlord to tour other land you farm sustainably, particularly that you lease, can demonstrate your farming expertise and commitment to stewardship. If the landlord is unavailable consider sending a video of what a sustainably managed farm looks like. This can be particularly helpful where a landowner is bringing idle land back into production.

While talk is cheap, it is probably less so when coming from another landowner. If you have current or past landowners consider asking them to provide references.

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Protecting Your Tenure

  • Get it in writing
  • Record it
  • Communicate
    • Links to how to create a farm newsletter