The information in this Guide is intended for use as educational material to assist landowners, farmers, and their advisors in understanding various laws, regulations, and lease provisions. The Guide is not intended, and should not be used, as a substitute or replacement for individual legal advice. Landowners and farm operators should consult a lawyer and other relevant professionals prior to entering a lease agreement. Reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this Guide; however, the content and interpretation of laws and regulations are subject to change. The effect of future legislative, administrative, and judicial developments cannot be predicted. For these reasons, the utilization of these materials by any person represents an agreement to hold harmless the author, the Agricultural Law Center, Drake University and the Law School, the Leopold Center, and Iowa State University for any liability, claims, damages, or expenses that may be incurred by any person as a result of reference to or reliance on the information contained in this Guide.
This resource is taken from Chapter Two of the Landowner’s Guide. It is provided here to give landowners and others quick access to information that relates to their personal needs and concerns.
The links generally give a brief introduction to the topic and its relevance in a farm lease situation, and then provide links to additional resources with more general information. The “Soil Conservation” link provides access to a series of questions to help determine how you can encourage your tenant to conserve on-farm resources. You can always return to this screen through the “Landowners Toolbox” at the top of the page.
Questions to ask yourself
These questions and answers are meant as examples of some issues you might consider. Your particular situation could require other considerations. You can download and print this resource as a worksheet for future reference and to use in discussions with your advisors and tenant.
What are your long-term plans for the property?
- Transfer to family?
- Agricultural or Conservation easement?
What are the characteristics of the property? If you’d like to go deeper into the history of and create a narrative about your land, you can use the Farm Legacy Report developed by one of our partners the Allamakee SWCD.
- Highly erodible land (HEL)?
- Karst Topography?
- Wildlife Habitat?
- Is a house located on the property?
- Existing conservation problems?
Do you have room for flexibility regarding rental income?
- Can you afford to reduce the rent?
- Can you afford to share certain expenses?
- Can you share any of the risk (and reward)?
- No, I rely on rental payments as my primary income.
Do you have the time, experience, or desire to participate in the management aspects of the farm operation, and if so, what aspects of the operation are you interested in?
- Operational decision-making?
- Organic certification?
- Participation in federal farm programs?
Do you have specialized equipment the farm operator can use?
Can you provide secure land tenure, or a long-term lease?
What particular concerns do you have regarding the sustainability of your farmland? (Again, the answers here are by no means an exhaustive list.)
- Soil Conservation (This link provides a series of questions to help determine how you can encourage the conservation of farm resources.) View as slides.
- Integrating livestock
- Rejuvenating neglected land
- Woodlot management
- Improving water quality
- Mitigating climate change
- Increasing biodiversity
- Wildlife habitat
- Encouraging integrated pest management
- Existing leases?
- Zoning restrictions?
Is an agricultural lease the right choice for you?
- This will largely depend on the answers to several of the questions above. For instance, if you are not dependent on income from leasing the property, place a high value on wildlife or other conservation concerns, wish to retain rights for private recreation, and the land is not well-situated for agricultural production you might find a conservation easement more appealing.
- Conservation easement?
- Custom farming?
After examining your own priorities it is time to talk to the tenant. Remember, setting priorities to discuss with the tenant rather than deciding on a rigid plan is more likely to result in a win/win situation and a longer, more sustainable tenancy.