Tips to foster relationships with landlords
Few farming relationships are more critical than the one between a landowner and tenant. This partnership solidifies access to a vital asset, and during times of lean profitability, the relationship is even more important.
Most farmers rent from multiple landowners. A February Farm Journal Pulse, a text message poll of farmers and ranchers, asked: How many landlords do you have? Around 20% of the 1,300 respondents have one to two landlords, while 27% have three to five. Nearly 20% have six to eight landlords, 12% have nine to 12 and 14% have 13 or more landlords.
Communication is key. “Landlords have a significant investment in the land and are interested in knowing what’s going on,” says Dalen Heida, president of Midwest Land Management and Real Estate, a farm management company in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and South Dakota.
Heida offers these tips to maintain and strengthen landlord relationships:
- Share field and farm updates. Weather is always a good topic to discuss with your landlord in a share arrangement because it directly affects crop returns. Also inform them about general crop conditions. This information can be mailed, emailed or delivered over the phone—whichever method the landlord prefers.
- Improve the appearance of the land. Small tasks, such as removing weeds from the fencerows and mowing ditches and waterways, mean a lot to owners. Be sure to share pictures of the crops and inform your landowner about these improvements, especially if they live off the farm or out of state.
- Be fair and timely with rent payments, regardless of the type of rental agreement. Also, if you have a good year, consider paying out a bonus. Giving during good times will make landlords more willing to lower rent during tough times.
“Most farm owners want the tenant to survive and make money too, so they are willing to adjust,” Heida adds.
To see a full listing of past Farm Journal Pulse polls and to sign up to participate in the survey, visit www.FarmJournalPulse.com