How To Talk To Your Landlord About Prevent Plant

05:50PM Jun 03, 2019
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By the end of this week, the prevent plant final planting dates for corn will have passed in the Corn Belt. While the forecast continues to improve, farmers are still faced with tough decisions about filing a prevent plant claim. On rented land, it’s critical to ensure proper communication about prevented plant with the landowner, says Chris Barron, farmer and CEO of Ag View solutions and a Top Producer columnist. He shares these eight tips for making that conversation easier.

  1. Talk to your agent first. Before you have a conversation with the landowner, it is critical to have had a sufficient conversation with your crop insurance agent. “You need communicate to a landowner factual and correct information with the specifics of the prevent plant scenario that you have,” Barron says. 
  2. Plant the prevent plant seed early. If it’s looking like a probable situation, communicate with your landlord about it as soon as possible. “Say, ‘Hey I want you to know that we are considering prevent plant. We are analyzing the situation, and we will keep you up to date as this develops,’” he says. “That way they aren't shocked or surprised.”
  3. Know your rental agreement and understand how that influences available options. Do you have any rental agreements that aren’t a straight rent? If you have a share rent, crop share, profit sharing or variable lease, you’ll need to have a special type of discussion, he says. “For example, a farmer has 50/50 crop share with a landowner. Landowner says, ‘Well, I don't have any insurance, so I can't prevent plant.’ Therein lies a pretty big issue.” Understand what the land owner has for coverage. Is it equivalent to what you have on your portion? Landowners in these kinds of agreements have skin in the game and will want to be included in the decision, according to Barron. “Having that conversation early, even if you're not 100% sure, is really important, so that the scenarios are being thought through from both parties along the way,” he says.
  4. Know your landlord. Not all landowners are the same. Landowner A might be one who really doesn't need to see the numbers and is probably going to be OK with whatever you recommend, Barron explains. “Those are the easy ones. Probably start there first because that'll get you warmed up,” he says. Landowner B might say, ‘Well, why? What's going on? I don't know why I've always had corn on my field, why is there not corn? Why is it not soybeans? Are you just giving up? “For that type of response, I think it's really critical to have the numbers present,” he says. Need help comparing several prevent plant scenarios side by side? Barron has a tool you can use; send him an email at: [email protected]
  5. Know the numbers. Regardless of the tool used, producers need to establish what their cost of production is, and how that relates to their yield estimate, Barron says. “Once they know what their prevent claim payment is, then in our tool they can plug that number in from the insurance agent, plug in their costs production by line item, and play with price and yield,” he says. “It gives them a scenario side by side of the economics.”
  6. Seeing is believing. Go pick up your landowner and take them to see the field(s) in question, Barron advises. “Physically go out and show them what you're dealing with, because it's easy to sit at the kitchen table and wonder why? But if you see something with your own eyes, it has more impact,” he says. “Not that they don't believe you but seeing is believing.” Have an absentee landlord? Barron recommends sending them photos and videos with the conditions, situation and date.  
  7. Be prepared for Plan B. Landowners want to know what you’re going to do if you’re not going to plant corn or soybeans. “The Plan B communication should be in numbers, but also it needs to be a conversation of the why behind the numbers,” he says. “That will help with the buy in as far as understanding, ‘OK, what are you going to do since this is going to be a weedy mess?” 
  8. Make the most of the situation. “Every challenge or issue is a huge opportunity,” he says. “This is a huge opportunity for some of these farms to go in this summer and do some land maintenance: maybe fix a waterway, maybe add some additional tile, maybe take out some fence lines or remove some trees or repair some areas of the field that may have been neglected just because of time.” Investing time in doing land improvements for the landowner this summer could be quite valuable in really solidifying that relationship. 

More coverage on 2019 prevent plant information:
Answers to Common Prevent Plant Questions

How Many Prevent Plant Acres Will The Market Allow?

A Comprehensive Look: Should Farmers Use Prevent Plant 

How to Weigh Your Prevent Plant Decision

MFP 2.0 Makes Prevent Plant Decisions Even More Difficult

Planting Delayed? Here Are Your Prevent Plant Options

Is Prevent Plant the Most Profitable Option in 2019?

Considering Prevent Plant? Call Your Agent Now