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Published January 14, 2013, 10:59 AM

Farmers, write a resumé

Producers urged to educate landlords about agriculture.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

Name: Bill Farmer

Location: Ag Town, USA

Objective: 1. Continue to rent your land. 2. Maximize revenue from the land, while also protecting the soil and environment.

Experience: 20 years in farming.

Qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in ag economics. Regular attendance at educational farm meetings.

References: Available upon request.

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. — Farmers and ranchers might lift an eyebrow in surprise at the suggestion they write a resume to give to landlords.

But the concept has merit, especially when a growing number of landlords have little, if any, direct connection with agriculture, says Willie Huot, a Grand Forks (N.D.) County Extension Service agent.

“Operators are in the key position to educate owners who have moved off the farm,” he says.

Resumes and newsletters are two ways of doing that.

Huot spoke at the annual Lake Region Extension Roundup, which was held Jan. 8 and 9 in Devils Lake, N.D. About 700 people attended each day of the event, sponsored by the North Dakota State University Extension Service and the crop improvement associations of Benson, Cavalier, Nelson, Ramsey, Rolette and Towner counties.

Skewed perceptions

The need for educating landlords is even greater because of escalating farmland values and rental rates, Huot says.

Some landlords hear the sales price or rental rate for a particular parcel of land and mistakenly assume that a parcel they own nearby automatically should fetch the same amount, he says.

The news media contributes to skewed perceptions of land values and rental rates by reporting on the sale of a handful of parcels at extremely high prices, Huot says.

He points to a parcel of farmland in North Dakota’s Walsh County that late last year sold for $10,000 per acre. An Agweek article on the sale was carried later by some other members of the news media.

Resumes and newsletters can help ag producers communicate the importance of good stewardship they practice, he says.

“It’s not all about the person paying the highest price,” Huot says.

Ask yourself 5 questions

Huot recommended that farmers and ranchers who rent land ask themselves these questions:

•What are my competitive advantages to be selected by a landlord to farm his or her land?

•Do I adequately convey those advantages to a landlord or perspective landlord?

•What are the special needs/concerns/priorities of the landlord concerning that tract of land?

•Do I meet those needs by the way I’m currently farming the land?

•How would I feel about the agreement if I were the landlord?

“Unless you can say it seems to be a fair deal on both sides of the table, it (the agreement) is likely going to change in the future,” Huot says. “It’s got to work on both sides of the table.”

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