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Examining Frequently Asked Farm Lease Questions

As harvest season draws to a close, farmers are starting to look forward to the next planting and growing season. Often times, this means signing new lease agreements or evaluating if an existing agreement is working.

“Because nearly half of Iowa’s crop ground is farmed through a cash rent or crop share lease, it is crucial that both tenants and landlords understand Iowa law as it relates to farm leases,” said Kristine Tidgren, assistant director of the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation.

Tidgren is the author of an article titled “Farm Leases – Frequently Asked Questions” that appears in the November issue of the Acreage Living newsletter from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. The article aims to answer common questions regarding Iowa farm leases and the law.

“Knowing the particulars of the law is very important,” Tidgren said. “Tenants and owners need to know what their rights and obligations under the law are. Now that harvest is coming to a close, many farmers start thinking about the next year and they look at their lease and might want to change it. Iowa has particular laws that don’t always make that possible.”

One of the most important things for farmers to understand when dealing with leases is that unless a termination notice is given by September 1, that lease will remain intact for the next year.

“Sometimes an owner will allow a tenant to renegotiate a lease at this point, but both parties would have to agree,” Tidgren said. “This also applies to oral agreements, not just written contracts.”

Understanding what is enforceable is also very important for both parties.

“Not having a written lease can lead to a lot of confusion,” Tidgren said. “An oral lease is just as binding as a written lease, it just isn’t as easy to prove what the terms are in a disagreement. Having a written lease eliminates confusion and insures everyone is on the same page.”

The November edition of the Acreage Living newsletter also includes articles on finding the right supplies for growing fruits and vegetables, the wounds left by forest invasive species and winter manure management.

Source: Christa Hartsook, Iowa State University

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