Farmland Leasing Resources

Farmland leasing is a popular topic of conversation year round in Iowa with much of Iowa farmland under a rental agreement. Ag Decision Maker has a multitude of information relating to leasing arrangements under the Whole Farm – Leasing section, .

Ag Decision Maker (AgDM) includes rental rate surveys, forms, and information on agreements and types of leases. Survey information includes farmland cash rental rate surveys from ISU Extension and Outreach and USDA, and historical county cropland cash rental rates. Forms are available for lease agreements; lease supplements for farm, conservation, and drainage improvements; and farm lease termination notice. Information on types of leases covers cash, flexible cash, crop share, pasture, building, storage, or beef cow leases. Additional information related to leasing arrangements is available on improving a farm lease contract, legal considerations, farm resumes or newsletters, and self-employment tax.

Ag Decision Maker Resources:

Resources that are commonly requested related to farmland leasing include the following publications.

ISU Farmland Cash Rental Rate Survey includes cash rental rates for the listed year by state, region, and county. Rates are represented for tillable farm ground, hay, oats, corn stalk grazing, and hunting rights.

Computing a Cropland Cash Rental Rate explains ways to compute to a farmland cash rental rate.

Flexible cash leases a topic that has brought about an increase of questions and interest over the past few years. The publication Flexible Farm Lease Agreements  lays the groundwork for these types of leases. The publication Flexible Cash Rent Lease Examples  gives additional examples of flexible cash lease agreements.

A farmland lease contract is an agreement between two or more individuals; the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation provides insight to the legal and taxation issues surrounding farmland leases in the publication Iowa Farm Leases – Legal, Economic, and Tax Considerations.

Other Resources:

Ag Lease 101 a product of the North Central Farm Management Extension Committee which is represented by several universities across the Mid-West. On Ag Lease 101 under the documents tab, individuals can find lease publications and forms for fixed and flexible cash, crop share, pasture, and beef cow rental arrangements.

Web Soil Survey (WSS) is a resource that provides soil data and information. Individuals can use WSS to find the soil types and related information for their farm. Assistance for using Web Soil Survey to map and find Iowa Corn Suitability Ratings is also available on the Ag Decision Maker website.

These documents and the information on AgDM can get an individual started on setting a farmland cash rental rate for the following lease year. Your local ISU Extension and Outreach Farm Management Field Specialist can assist with individual questions; you can find the specialist in your area by clicking on the respective county or area on the map on the following webpage,

Ag Decision Maker

An agricultural economics and business website.

Iowa Farmland Ownership

Contributed by Mike Duffy, Extension Farm Management Specialist,

duffyFarmland is the major resource for Iowa.  Who owns the land and how it is farmed determines what kind of agriculture we have across the state. Every five years Iowa State University does a survey to examine the ownership of Iowa farmland.

The Iowa farmland ownership survey examined land ownership as of July 1, 2012. The final report (Farmland Ownership and Tenure in Iowa, 2012 – publication PM 1983 revised) will be available in the coming months.

One of the interesting aspects of the 2012 survey is that it shows the changes in land ownership patterns over a boom period. The last ownership survey was done in 2007 and during the intervening five years Iowa farmland values more than doubled going from $3909 per acre to $8296. This increases rivals any similar time period.

The latest Iowa farmland ownership survey is compared to previous surveys dating back to 1982, during the time when farmland values first started collapsing after the boom of the 1970s. Looking at the various surveys over the past 30 years shows some of the changes in farming technology, demographics and other patterns. The 2012 survey also shows the impact of the current land boom on these trends.

Iowa farmland is increasingly in the hands of the elderly.  In 2012 30 percent of Iowa’s farmland was owned by someone over the age of 75 years old. The percent of land owned by people in this age category had been steadily increasing since 1982, when 12 percent of the land was owned by someone over 75 years old. The trend towards increasing age does appear to have been slowed by the boom. There are younger owners although they represent a small percentage of the acres. Over half, 56 percent, of the farmland in Iowa is owned by someone over the age of 65.

Another trend that seems to have slowed is the percent of land owned by people who don’t live in Iowa full time.  In 2012, 21 percent of the farmland in Iowa was owned by someone who didn’t live in the state or only lived in Iowa part time.  This was the same percentage as found in the 2007 survey. However, in 1982, only 6 percent of the land was owned by someone who didn’t live in Iowa or only lived here part of the time. It appears that the higher land values had an impact on the ownership by non-Iowans.

Ownership of Iowa’s farmland and access to the use of the land is critical for the future of the State. The impact of the ownership on both beginning farmers and the retiring farmers will be crucial. The current situation with respect to farmland ownership in Iowa is a good topic for discussion among landlords, family or heirs, and agribusiness professionals.

Ag Decision Maker (AgDM)

An agricultural economics and business website.

Communicating with Landlords, Lenders, and Grain Dealers


Contributed by Kelvin Leibold, Extension Farm Management Field Specialist,

If you haven’t already started to talk to your landlords, lenders and grain dealers you may want to take some time to bring them up to date with what is going on with your farming practices. Plans that were put in place months ago are being revised due to events beyond anyone’s control.

Keeping them up to date with what is going on with your farm operation is critical. Some farmers are going to take “Prevented Planting” option for corn and possible for soybeans. Many of the landowners will not understand why tenants took that option. The idea of not planting may seem unreasonable. Producers are trying to maximize returns considering unpredictable outcomes such as yields, prices, and input costs such as drying costs or cover crops. You need to communicate this to your landlords. Negotiation of rental rates for 2014 will soon be underway so providing information such as satellite pictures of the farm can help “tell the story”.

Lenders, for the most part, understand the challenges you face. Most of the producers have some level of crop insurance. However, if the timing of the payments for claims or the total income available to service debt is going to be an issue you need to visit with your lender about restructuring or adjusting the timing of payments. You may also have some issue regarding your income tax liabilities and may need to spend some time with your tax advisors on how to deal with the change of timing of your income. There may be options if you need to defer income if you may end up with two years of income in one tax year.

Many producers have forward contracted grain to end users. These end users need the commodity to operate their plants, make feed, or meet their export contracts. The sooner these people are aware of challenges you may have in meeting these contracts the sooner that both of you can start to work on ways to mitigate the impact. Defaulting on these contracts is not a viable option.

Communicating early and often will go a long ways to deal with these issues. The Ag Decision Maker has several articles on improving your communication skills.  File C4-71 Improving Business Communication Skills,, gives some suggestions. In addition to landlords and lenders you may face challenges with your own family or co-workers in these stressful times. File C6-56 Good Communication Can Help Solve Problems,, can help with communication with family.

If you feel overwhelmed or are looking for some answers check out the Iowa Concern website or call the HOTLINE at 1-800-447-1985.

Ag Decision Maker

An agricultural economics and business website.

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