More than two years ago Sallee v. Stewart made headlines when the Iowa Supreme Court ruled the state’s “recreational use statute” did not apply to a chaperone who was injured while supervising children playing in a barn. Recreational use statutes provide protection against negligence claims for landowners who open their land to the public. The case received a great deal of attention from farmers, insurance providers, educators, and the Iowa legislature.
Farm leases are a special creature with several unique requirements that don’t apply to other leases. This is particularly true in Iowa. A farm lease is a contract, but it is also a conveyance of a real property interest that transfer rights of possession and use. The extent of these rights, however, depends on the terms of the lease contract and on state law.
The Iowa Supreme Court recently released an opinion addressing Iowa’s recreational use statute, which provides limits on the liability landowners are exposed to who invite people to use their land for recreation purposes. Continue reading
The 2012 drought is the worst drought in more than half a century. However, the short- and long-term economic effects on farmers and landowners remains unclear. While record setting prices for corn and soybeans and crop insurance may offset lower yields for many farmers, the drought will still hit others hard, particularly livestock producers. Continue reading
USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIs) is dedicating the month of April to increasing public awareness of invasive plant pests, diseases, and harmful weeds and the damage they create for American agriculture. USDA has a website with information about the invasive species problem and methods for preventing their further spread. Continue reading
The USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) has released a new study on “The Future of Environmental Compliance Incentives in U.S. Agriculture.” Conservation compliance provisions require conservation practices or limit land uses in order for landowners and operators to receive certain USDA program payments. These provisions have been credited with drastically reducing soil erosion on highly erodible land, as well as preventing the loss of wetlands and grasslands. Continue reading
State Executive Director of USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Missouri, Edward Hamill, released a reminder today that in order to receive USDA program payments, landowners and operators are required to comply with Highly Erodible Land (HEL) and Wetland Conservation (WC) provisions. Continue reading
Secretary Tom Vilscack today announced a new Conservation Reserve Program Initiative that will allow producers to enroll one million acres of land that benefit duck nesting habitat, upland birds, wetlands, pollinators and wildlife. Continue reading
The Environmental Working Group issued a press release a new report, “Conservation Compliance: A Retrospective… and a Look Ahead.” The report focuses on a number of surveys that show strong farmer support of tying the direct payments Continue reading
The Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire published a new report, “Rural Demographic Change in the New Century: Slower Growth, Increased Diversity.” The report focuses on the continued decline in population and services provided in rural, or non-metropolitan areas. Continue reading
Iowa’s courts and legislature have established a strong legal foundation for a duty of stewardship. The brochure below, recently made available as part of the Sustainable Agricultural Land Tenure Initiative, provides a brief history of how this foundation was laid as well as additional details on Iowa’s soil conservation law, conservation incentive programs, and federal conservation compliance laws. Continue reading
USDA NRCS recently released its Natural Resources Credit Trading Reference. This reference tool explains the challenges and opportunities available for landowners and farmers to engage in environmental service markets. These markets allow landowners and farmers to receive monetary compensation for Continue reading
Preliminary reports are not surprisingly calling for additional rental rate increases for 2012. According to the Iowa State University Farmland Cash Rental Amount Survey, the average cash rent paid in Iowa in 2011 was $214, a $30 per acre increase over the previous year. Further, substantial disparity Continue reading
Recent reports show potentially significant economic gains for diverse farm operations. The new studies, discussed and linked to below, reveal the potential profitability for both organic production and local marketing. Continue reading
The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University released information on new landowner resources for establishing prairie conservation strips alongside crop fields. The resources are based on information gathered from the STRIPs (Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairies) project at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge.
STRIPs research shows that small patches of native prairie can have a significant impact on the long-term health of farmland. The fact sheet contains guidelines for establishing and maintaining prairie strips as well as suggestions for locating technical and financial assistance. This guide can be accessed here and hard copies are available from the Leopold Center for free. Continue reading
A new U.S. Geologic Survey report, Environmental Factors That Influence the Location of Crop Agriculture in the Conterminous United States, provides insight on principle environmental areas of concern in locations where our food and fiber are produced. Continue reading
US Farm Lease has announced that Governor Terry Branstad will be opening the “This Land is Your Land” Conference. The Governor will be addressing issues concerning land use and the importance of proper maintenance of our valuable natural resources. For more details on the July 28, 2011 Landowner Conference visit www.farmlandconference.com.
U.S. Farm Lease and Drake Agricultural Law Center are convening a landowner conference Thursday, July 28, 2011. The conference will assist landowners in making informed decisions on how to maintain the land’s productivity while continuing a profitable and enduring landlord-tenant relationship. The conference also provides an opportunity to network and share information with other landowners and will kick off with an address by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad. Details on the event are provided below or at www.farmlandconference.com. Continue reading
Increasing farm rental rates, caused by rising commodity prices and land values, can create a strong temptation for landowners to place expiring Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land back in production and lease it to the highest bidder. Continue reading
In the wake of recent research at Iowa State University showing soil loss far in excess of previous USDA estimates, Professor Neil Hamilton, Director of the Drake University Agricultural Law Center, addressed the legal foundation for soil conservation on Iowa’s farmland. The complete essay can be found in the Des Moines Register. Continue reading
As the public gives increased attention to where food is coming from and the effects of agriculture on the environment, Continue reading
As personnel at the Kansas City Federal Reserve report on economic simulations regarding farmland values and interest rates, the issue of a land value bubble and comparisons to the boon times of the 1970’s and the corresponding crash of the 1980’s are abundant in the press. Continue reading
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) today revealed the findings of a new study by Iowa State University Scientists. The report focuses on the massive soil erosion rates experienced after heavy rains, Continue reading
The Conservation Reserve Program was in the news last week as high grain prices are causing some landowners to place expiring CRP land into production. This week, Philip Brasher writes in the Des Moines Register that 26 Representatives are calling for an early, penalty-free release of CRP land. In a related article, Fred Kirschenmann, Continue reading