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Farmers: Worried by your landlords' age?

I was standing in the Agweek booth at a recent farm show when a farmer (who I didn't know) stopped to ask if I wanted to hear his story idea. Absolutely, I said.

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I was standing in the Agweek booth at a recent farm show when a farmer (who I didn't know) stopped to ask if I wanted to hear his story idea. Absolutely, I said.

He said he rents most of his farmland and that concerns him. He asked if I could figure out why.

Well, I said, I'd guess most of your landlords are older, probably in their 70s and 80s. I'd guess you wonder if their heirs will rent the land to you after the current owners are gone. (If you'd spent half as much time as me researching and writing farmland rental rate stores, you'd have guessed it, too.)

He nodded and said something along the lines of, "Especially since I have verbal leases now."

To which I said, "I'm just a journalist. But it's safe to say ag bankers and extension educators everywhere would tell you, "Get a written contract!'"

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He nodded and said he knew written contracts would be better. Then he asked whether I'd consider doing a story -- but, in response to my question, said he wasn't interested in going on the record himself.

I told him, "Thank you. It's an excellent suggestion. I know a lot of farmers share your concern.  And so I've thought quite a few times before about doing a story on it. But it's such a hard thing to get at; tenants just don't what to talk about it publicly."

(I don't blame them. If I were a farmer in that situation, I wouldn't want to talk about it, either.)

But maybe you're an exception. So I extend this invitation now:

Are you a farmer who rents much of your cropland from aging landlords and worries that their heirs may not rent it you? Are you willing to talk about it publicly? If so, contact me at jknutson@agweek.com .

Read more of my blogs at www.agright.areavoices.com/ .

 

Opinion by Jonathan Knutson
Plain Living
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