If you are an Institutional Member delivering this curriculum for an in-person audience, please email Eva at eva@farmcommons.org for the Facilitation Packet.

If you want to invest your resources wisely by understanding the legal nature of a piece of land to set your business up for long term success, then this course is for you.

This is an approximately 2-hour self-paced course that will help you conduct a due diligence process on agricultural land you plan to utilize for your business, whether that means land you’re leasing, land you’re purchasing, or land you already own. Why go through this process? Because when growing a business you are investing precious resources of time, energy, and money. There are key questions you can ask about the land now to avoid plans being derailed and investments being lost. This course will guide you through this research process so you can move forward with confidence.

Throughout the lessons, we cover navigating zoning codes and challenges, identifying property lines and easements, as well as encumbrances.

Afterwards, you will be well positioned to conduct the due diligence process for the land you plan to utilize.

Course objectives

Upon completion of this course, you will:

  • Understand what the process of due diligence looks like, including conducting research at the county records office, finding and reading maps and walking the parcel, discussing with neighbors and current owners/users, and the basics of researching the zoning code
  • Understand that the zoning code may affect when and how you conduct your planned/current activities on the farm/ranch
  • Identify opportunities to shape the zoning code depending on your comfortability and sense of security with engaging with the zoning board, as well as available time and resources.

As a result, you will develop your strategy for conducting due diligence, selecting the research questions you need to address for your individual needs and circumstances.

What is included in this course?

This course includes four lessons featuring illuminating video presentations, insightful readings, reflective quizzes, and action-planning exercises. At the end of the course, we include further resources for moving forward. Access the course materials at any time using your active Farm Commons member account.

Here’s an overview of the lessons you’ll work through:

Lesson 1: Getting Started

  • Introduction – The basics of doing due diligence on an agricultural parcel.
  • Why do due diligence? – In this video, learn key questions to ask when doing due diligence on the land you plan to utilize.

Lesson 2: Navigating Zoning Codes

  • Introduction – Exploring Question #1: Will the zoning code allow me to do what I want on this land?
  • Step 1: Identify relevant issues
  • Step 2: Locate your zoning code
  • Step 3: Review conditional uses or special uses
  • Step 4: Pay attention to definitions
  • Step 5: Review specific requirements for desired activities

Lesson 3: Navigating Zoning Challenges

  • Introduction – Dealing with ambiguity with strategies for navigating zoning code challenges.
  • Challenge 1: Ambiguities
  • Challenge 2: Dealing with Prohibitions or Restrictions
  • Challenge 3: Recognizing and addressing discrimination

Lesson 4: Understanding the legal nature of the land

  • Introduction – Addressing the remaining questions of the due diligence process.
  • Question #2: Where are the property lines
  • Question #3: Are other people using the land?
  • Question #4: Are there any easements on the property?
  • Question #5: Are there any encumbrances on the property?

Course requirements

  • Active Farm Commons membership
  • Broadband internet connection with a minimum speed of 5Mbps (recommended)
  • Desktop browser: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Microsoft Edge
  • Mobile browser: iOS Safari, Chrome, Samsung Internet

Note: The course platform is not supported on Internet Explorer, Chromium, and Linux web browsers. You will see an error message if attempting to access the course on these browsers.

This course is suitable for farmers and ranchers with any business experience. However, those with at least one year of experience who are able to conduct an assessment of their business and work through tangible assignments to improve current risk management systems will benefit most from this course.

This workshop is FREE for our Producer Members, Legal Professional Members and Institutional Members. Already a member? Click "log in" above to register for free. Not a member yet? Get access to this workshop, our extensive library of guides/model documents, and ask your questions on our Commons Community with a Producer Membership.  Join us by clicking here!