What do you need to create a long-term lease?

How does a solid plan impact a long-term lease on your farm?

long-term leaseDo most growers have a long-term plan when it comes to the acres they own? Of course they do, because they have control of the future of that land. They may also a vision of what they want the land to look like many years from now. So why do many growers not have a long-term plan on their rented acres? Is it because many have not asked for a long-term lease? As the landlord, is there value when working with a farmer for 5+ years?

This whole conversation come down to vision. A lack of vision is not just the problem of the landowner but also the farmer. It is rampant in our society today, and the farm is no exception. How do we even measure something like vision? The goals we set should be a good indicator of our vision, but there are some alarming statistics when it comes to setting goals.
According to a Harvard Business study:

  • 83% of the population does not have goals
  • 14% have a plan in mind, but with unwritten goals
  • 3% have goals written down

Here are four steps to help you make the shift to a long-term lease when working with landowners.

1. Have a vision for the farm.

What is the farm capable of doing that it is not currently doing? Does it lack water-holding capacity or is ponding a serious problem? Is the soil alive or does it does it lack the health to make it more productive? Is organic matter building in the soil or is it slowing being depleted? These are a few questions that each grower should be asking as they evaluate their current acres, both owned and rented. Bottom line is what goals do you want to achieve on the farm? This vision will affect any long-term lease.

2. Communicate the vision.

Once you have identified the long-term vision for the farm, now it is time to communicate that vision. Why is it important to accomplish the vision on the farm? What are the long-term benefits that the landowner will see? Many of these benefits will be tangible, you can place a number or dollar value on it. Others will be intangible or something that is not as easily defined. Examples of this could be observing more earthworm activity or residue breakdown. How do you place a value on earthworm activity? This is difficult to measure, but you know it is making a difference. I would encourage you to use your management team to help determine how to communicate your vision as well as helping put your plan in place.

3. Put a plan together to implement.

The next step is to put together the action plan to achieve the goals you have set. Many of these goals cannot be achieved overnight but will take time to implement and see the benefits of all your hard work. How long does it take to raise organic matter 1%? What is the payoff period on a pattern tiled system? Is soil health something that can be achieved with just a few cover crop applications or is it more complex than just that? Any time you are changing soil, it takes time and many landowners don’t always know what long-term benefits these goals will bring. Each of your goals should have a list of action steps in place. This will help the landowner visualize what you will be doing on their land. The final and very important detail of the plan is to have a timeline in place when these action items will be completed. The landowner needs to see a timeline in order to make a long-term investment with you, the farmer.

4. Communicate the plan.

Communication is the most important thing you as the farmer can do with your landowners. After creating you plan, make sure to put it on paper. Give a copy to the landowner and review it with them each year you are implementing the action steps. You can be one of the 3% of farmers who take the time, set a goal, write a plan, and put it into action. What impression does that give to current and even future landowners? You can be the one who stands out in the crowd.

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”— Michelangelo

At Bird Dog we exist to help give farmers opportunities and landowners options. If you are looking for a farmer who has vision and would like to explore a long-term lease, we can help you find one.

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