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The Landowner’s Guide to Sustainable Farm Leasing

This guide is written to assist landowners in understanding their role as a landlord and a steward of the land, encourage open communication between landowner and tenant, and ultimately aid in the development of a lease agreement that is beneficial to the landowner, the farmer, the community, and the land.

You can download and print the Guide as a PDF, though viewing the Guide online is recommended in order to take advantage of the following features:

  • Video commentary from legal and agricultural experts, landowners, and farmers;
  • Links to additional information on conservation topics, such as floodplain management and farmland preservation;
  • Links to more in-depth analysis of landlord-tenant laws and their relationship to sustainable farm practices;
  • Definitions of tenancy and conservation terms and concepts;
  • Links to other relevant websites and publications.


  • What You’ll Find in this Guide
  • Obtaining Further Assistance

Chapter One: The Basics

  • The Basics of Sustainability
  • The Basics of Farm Leases

Chapter Two: Determining Priorities

  • Importance of Prioritizing
  • Questions to Ask Yourself

Chapter Three: Talking to Your Tenant

  • Understanding Important Terms and Concepts
  • Understanding the Tenant’s Perspective
  • Social Dimensions of the Landlord-Tenant Relationship
  • Finding the Right Tenant
  • Keeping the Right Tenant

Chapter Four: Farm Leases, Sustainability, and the Law

  • Contract Law
  • Landlord-Tenant Law
  • External Legal Considerations
  • Incorporating Laws Into the Agreement

Chapter Five: Key Considerations for a Sustainable Farm Lease Agreement

  • The Term
  • Reimbursement for Improvements
  • Cost-sharing
  • Risk-sharing
  • Conservation Provisions
  • Communication

Chapter Six: A Few Additional Considerations

  • Recreational Uses
  • Ecosystem Services
  • Agricultural and Conservation Easements
  • Assisting a New Farmer

Written by: Ed Cox on August 4, 2010.
Last revised by: Matt RussellJanuary 8, 2016.