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.

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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

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

Recording the details behind below average rental rates can aid present and future landlord-tenant relations.

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

Leopold Center's Prairie Strips GuideThe 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

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 Continue reading