Are you thinking about the farm this time a year?
It seems this time of year the weather changes from one day to the next or even one hour to the next. But there is always something to do on the farm. Most farmers and landowners have their lease agreements in place and are looking forward to the growing season. This is a great time to sit down with your tenant and talk about the events of the growing season.
Why is this important? Your lease is locked in, rental rates are in place, and from a landowner perspective, the hard work is done. Now it is time to learn about your tenant and what they are doing. One of the biggest complaints I hear from farmers is that the landowner really doesn’t care what I do, as long as they get their rent check. Unfortunately, this is way too common.
Take time to build the relationship
I would encourage you to use this time for three very important benefits. The first is to build the relationship. Relationship take time. They are not build in a day. Using this time to learn about the farmers who rent your land will go a long way. What are they passionate about in life? What are their life-long goals? How do you the landowner fit into these goals? Learn about their family and what their roles are as part of the operation. This conversation lends itself to the farmer asking you the same questions. Good communication is the key to any relationship, and your renter is not any different.
Get all your farm questions answered
The second benefit I see is you can take this time to learn more about the farm. One of the tragedies today that stems from an affluent society, is many people don’t know how their food is produced or what it takes to get it to them. This lack of connection with their food has led to much fear. I appreciate a quote by Michele Payn of Cause Matters, an author for ag advocacy, “Science does not connect with the heart. Research does not connect with the heart. Data does not connect with the heart. Authentic conversations do.”
This meeting is a great time to just ask questions, questions like what are GMO’s and why do you use them? I hear a lot about soil health, what is it? Why do you grow the crops you do? What is your biggest challenge as a farmer or the biggest challenge with my land? Use this time to learn; you won’t be disappointed. When the farmer sees your interest, they become more intentional about getting you involved.
Best plan to improve the farm
The third benefit would be to use the time and talk about how you can work to make this land better. To improve the soil, it can take years, and many farmers are reluctant to invest if their rental agreement is only year by year. Use this time to talk through each other’s goals and formulate a plan.
How can we improve soil health? Is drainage adequate or are there limitations? What do the biological systems do and how can we foster these organisms? What practices should we eliminate to improve the field? Do you see any capital improvements that need to be made and how can we make it work? Being involved with your tenant will improve the overall value of your land, because you are improving production. The higher the production, the more predictable the land can be, and the more profitable it is for you and the farmers.
Make the time and take the time
Take this time, give the farmer renting your land a call and sit down with them. These meetings don’t have to take much time, but the more you put into it, the better it will be. The relationship between you and the farmer is unique, but it is still a relationship. If I can help you think about your conversation with them, please give me a call. I would be glad to share my thoughts with you.