Farm Commons focuses on creating flexible, adaptable tools that empower farmers to move forward in addressing their legal matters. Farmers, and business owners of all types, are sometimes under the misimpression that legal matters can be addressed by simply using the “correct” form or language. This often isn’t the case. This toolbox is designed primarily to help farmers build their own strategy to avoid legal problems through good communication, which is also good legal protection should a problem materialize. This toolbox IS NOT legal advice specific to any circumstance and should not be used as such.

The tools we provide are meant to help farmers who are seeking alternative ways to finance farmland—by not having to go through an institutional bank. It is also helpful for farmers who are in the process of negotiating or creating a land contract with a willing seller. The checklist and sample land contract contain a variety of options to help farmers craft provisions that are most suitable to their specific situation. The story of the purchase and sale of farmland between Farmer Claire, the buyer, and Penny, the seller, using a land contract is woven throughout to highlight the key issues that arise in land contracts and illustrate the importance of negotiating the terms up front.

For farmers who are curious about the peculiar nature of land contracts and want to learn more about why state courts and legislatures have gotten so involved, be sure to read Section 5, “Why Are Land Contracts Treated Differently by the Courts?” Given that land contracts are a very state-specific area of law, Farm Commons highly recommends that farmers entering land contracts work with an attorney in their state to either help draft or review the final land contract.

After opening this toolbox, farmers should:

  1. Understand the potential attributes for using a land contract to finance farmland
  2. Know the basic elements of a thorough land contract
  3. Gain a sense of how to adapt land contract elements for different situations
  4. Have the resources they need to negotiate and begin to create a land contract adapted to their own unique situation