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Published January 18, 2011, 10:31 AM

New era in farmland rental?

If you’re a farmer and rent land, it might be time to prepare a resume to impress landowners.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

If you’re a farmer and rent land, it might be time to prepare a resume to impress landowners.

“Operators really need to look at ways of improving their relationships with landlords,” says Willie Huot, a Grand Forks County, N.D., extension agent who has studied land rent negotiations and advises farmers on how to approach them.

In talks

This is the time of year in which landlords and farmers typically are negotiating, or wrapping up negotiations, on new rental agreements.

Both land prices and rental rates have increased sharply in the past six to seven years.

Prices have risen proportionately more than rental rates, so landlords who bought land as an investment want higher rental rates that better reflect land prices, Huot says.

“They see it (farmland) as an asset” like stocks or bonds, Huot says of investors.

That’s also true of many absentee landlords who inherited land and have little or no connection to farming or to the farmer who has rented the land for years, he says.

Think of it this way: Americans in general are increasingly less knowledgeable about, and less connected with, agriculture. The same is true of landowners.

Keeping posted

Huot suggests farmers consider creating a newsletter to update their landlords on what’s happening on the farm and in agriculture.

“It’s an educational effort and a communications tool,” he says of newsletters.

Resumes are another potential tool. Producers can list their agricultural accomplishments and abilities, much the way a job seeker does.

Huot offers two resources for farmers trying to get a better handle on how much rent to pay:

- The crop productivity index is offered by the National Resource Conservation Service. Go to