Leasing is an increasingly popular vehicle for land access, especially for beginning farmers and ranchers. Leasing can be the best available option for producers to get on the land without significant capital investment. If you are in the process of searching for the right land to lease, read our Basics of Due Diligence on an Agricultural Parcel. If you’ve already identified land to lease, you will be among the majority of established producers who lease at least some land, with just as many acting as landlords to other farmers. With a lot at stake, we want to be sure every lease is a “good” one. But, what does that mean?

At Farm Commons, a good agricultural lease is one that maximizes legal resilience. Legal resilience doesn’t come from filling in the blanks on a lease model or template, necessarily. It is created when landowners and producers 1) talk through a wide variety of issues particular to their arrangement and then 2) write down the details of their agreement. In short, a “good” agricultural lease is one that results from discussion and authentic agreement. Easy to say, but often hard to do. Fortunately, we have several resources to help.

Start with our free Agricultural Lease Agreement Basics which will provide you with key insights into how to begin lease discussions along with tips for negotiating terms that are most important to you. If you’d rather listen and learn, check out our free Podcast Episode Four: Write it Down! Farmland Leases (27min.), which will explores the same issues and solutions with stories from farmers themselves. Wondering how financial and legal obligations are generally divided when it comes to farmland leasing? Our Sharing Responsibilities in a Farmland Lease Basics resource gets you started.

Because a strong lease depends on discussion of a wide variety of issues,  we’ve put together a list of Powerful Questions to Prepare for an Agricultural Lease. This guide provides you with 43 key leasing questions to discuss with your landlord or farm tenant to make sure you’re catching all the important issues. For those farmers ready to dig deep into farmland leasing, and all of its legal problems and solutions, we have a tutorial for you! Watch or listen to our Farmland Leases Built to Last: Content and Legal Context (2hrs.).

Of course, we need to make sure our lease agreement gets written down. Many folks turn to models and templates to help that process. At Farm Commons we emphasize the planning and conversation more than the template, but we do have a model for adaptation. Browse our Long-Term Agroforestry Lease Workbook (73pgs.) and check out the model or template farmland lease. It’s fully annotated to help readers understand exactly why the lease is written as it is. The helpful narrative allows farmers and ranchers to understand how they might adapt the language to their unique circumstances. Don’t be turned off by the “agroforestry” title! It’s useful for everyone. For less detailed and un-annotated leases, we often turn to the templates offered by aglease101.com.

If you’d prefer step-by-step guidance that walks you through creating an agricultural lease that addresses your particular needs and goals use our Farmers’ Workbook for Creating an Agricultural Lease. This online, fillable workbook is chock-full of exercises, information, and prompts to help you clarify goals, work through tricky legal concepts, and value contributions as a tenant.