Become an outstanding tenant to create expansion opportunities
Relationships mean everything when it comes to keeping and expanding farm acreage.
“Most landowners don’t want to have to go looking for a new tenant,” explains Mykel Taylor, ag economist at Kansas State University. “As long as you have that landowner, trying to work with them is the best choice.”
Now is an ideal time to accelerate communication with existing landowners and explore ways to attract new customers.
“Most producers will approach lease negotiation with a lawyer or a banker differently than with the lady down the road,” Taylor says. “There’s a different approach, a different strategy. What are you doing to invest in that leasing relationship?”
Take A Chance. For the Peterson family of Loretto, Ky., land growth has been opportunistic, producer Albert Peterson says. His family’s operation, honored as the 2016 Top Producer of the Year, grows corn, wheat and other crops.
“We didn’t have a growth strategy,” Peterson says. “We didn’t go out and hand out fliers or anything.”
Instead, the family cultivated relationships with its 92 landowners and looked for chances to turn pastureland into cropland. The Petersons also own equipment to do bulldozing and excavating, which allowed them to make the land presentable and led them to be recognized as good stewards.
Taylor encourages farmers to stabilize relationships for the long term. As more young farmers take on leadership roles, it’s important for landowners to be able to put faces with tenant names.
“Get to know them before the transition happens,” Taylor says.
Get Involved. Brandon Whitt of Batey Farms in Murfreesboro, Tenn., credits his wife and father-in-law with introducing him to farming and motivating him to preserve the past and embrace the future. They do so on a diversified operation that dates to 1807. He operates on the idea that the only thing he gets to keep in life is his last name—in other words, his reputation.
“The operation has grown [in part] because of being involved in the local community, helping out with schools, development problems and immersing myself in my own community,” Whitt says.
As you work with landowners, treat them with the respect and professionalism they deserve. “This is a give and take,” Taylor says.