According to the 2018 Iowa Farmland Ownership and Tenure Survey, 53% of Iowa farmland is leased—in other words, more than half of Iowa’s farmland is not farmed by the people who own it. Non-operating landowners have tremendous potential to steward Iowa’s natural resources. With many non-operating landowner members, and with many members who rent land from non-operators, Practical Farmers is dedicated to providing resources and information to landowners to help them be better stewards of their lands and to ensure that agriculture in Iowa is resilient, sustainable and profitable for landowner and tenant alike.
This quarterly email newsletter curates content and the latest from PFI specifically for non-operating landowners.
Landowner Coaching Program
The Landowner Coaching Program connects non-operating landowners with a professional farm manager.
The consultation and landowner report is free to landowner participants through Practical Farmers of Iowa.
Land Connection Meet-Ups
For years tenant farmers and landowners have relied on a conversation and a handshake to determine rental rates each year.
Fluctuating market prices, fertilizer shortages and a dependence on world events means the price of corn and soybeans may fluctuate wildly year-to-year. Many farmers and landowners are turning to creative leasing solutions that can benefit the farmer and the landowner.
Learn more about flex leasing and some specific ways you can determine your rate. We’ll hear from farm managers, landowners, and tenants on the pros and cons of this type of lease.
PFI Landowner Resources
- 2019 Annual Conference: Landowner’s Prioritizing Conservation on Rented Ground; hear from PFI members Maggie McQuown (Steve Turman) and Ruth Rabinowitz on how they set farmland priorities and ensure that those priorities were reflected in their farm leases. Learn more about the progress they have made, lessons learned, and their future plans to further their goals.
- Conservation Through Collaboration. PFI member Lee Tesdell was the recipient of Practical Farmers’ 2019 Farmland Owner Legacy Award. Lee works closely with his farm tenants to protect soil, and wildlife on the Tesdell Century Farm that has been in his family since 1884. As a non-farming landowner, Lee is outspoken about the need for farmland owners to collaborate with their farming tenants on conservation.
- Who own’s the farmland? PFI Executive Director Sally Worley published this blog in 2018 that discusses farmland ownership trends, as well as the resulting challenges facing both landowners and operators alike.
Cover crops for landowners
Did you know that landowners can sign-up for our cover crop cost share program? Learn more about cover crops and cost share opportunities on PFI’s cover crop webpage.
Livestock on rented ground
Contract grazing cover crops can be a win-win-win for landowners, row-croppers and livestock producers. PFI has a fact-sheet on contract grazing cover crops that discusses the benefits, challenges and key points of contract grazing cover crops. This article from 2019 discusses how to reintegrate rotational grazing onto the landscape to benefit beginning farmers.
Transitioning to organic
Many landowners are interested in organic farming not only because of the environmental benefits, but also because of market opportunities for organic products. This field day recap from 2017 discusses transitioning to organic, including real-world challenges and lessons-learned.
Farm and land transfer and succession
Practical Farmers has a host of resources related to farm and land transfer and succession, including land protection options like conservation easements.
- Learn more about livestock leasing and access other resources for landowners from Green Lands Blue Waters Midwest Perennial Forage Working Group.
- Learn more about Why Organic from the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES). Also learn more about transitioning to organic production by viewing this presentation from the Iowa Organic Association.
- The Land Stewardship Project (LSP) has significant resources for landowners that can be found here. In particular, their Conservation Leasing Toolkit is a great resource.
- The Farmland Information Center also has a variety of information and resources for landowners.
- Iowa State University’s Ag Decision Maker provides significant resources that landowners will find useful, including sample leases and addendums. There’s also a variety of farm leasing decision making tools available through Ag Decision Maker.
- This “Landowners Guide to Sustainable Farm Leasing” document from the Drake Agricultural Law Center and the Leopold Center is a little outdated, but it is still an excellent resource.
- Farm management companies can be a valuable resource for landowners, especially landowners who live significant distances from the property. Two farm management companies that our members work with are Peoples Company and Sunderman Farm Management.
- The Land Trust Alliance’s Find a Land Trust tool will help identify accredited land trusts in your area who could help with land protection.
- Iowa Landowner Options is a website/tool developed by the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation to walk landowners through the various options available to them for land protection.
- Vermont Law School & the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems have a Farmland Access Legal Toolkit. In particular, we like their Farmland Lease Builder tool.