January - March 2003
Steven Johnson , farm and agriculture business management field specialist
Issues surrounding the leasing of farmland in Iowa continue to become more complex. Land values have trended higher in three of the last four years. Despite lower commodity prices, federal government payments have increased each year since1999.
Many farm operations have attempted to expand the number of acres being farmed in order to capture these government payments. Farming more acres with the same machinery and equipment might also reduce the net cost per acre. The result of these strategies has led to an increase in cash, rental rates and a large number of questions regarding “fair” rental rate arrangements. In addition, details of the 2002 Farm Bill and the pending program sign-up became known during May and June. Unique educational strategies to cover both leasing issues and introduction to the 2002 Farm Bill were needed.
Farm management field specialists statewide agreed that expanding leasing meetings was one choice. Also increasing the distribution of the "Farmland Leasing 2002" booklet was proposed. The booklet was expanded to 100 pages and included a 3 1/2 floppy disk containing two Microsoft Excel files: Farm Lease Comparisons and 2002 Farm Bill Payment Analyzer.
A total of 1,450 "Farmland Leasing" booklets were compiled and distributed statewide by farm management field specialists and county extension offices. The wholesale price was $8 each and the booklets were resold for $10 to clientele. Many of these booklets served as the primary training material for farmland leasing meetings and workshops statewide conducted by farm management field specialists. Proceeds totaling $1,500 was provided to extension ANR on campus by the Polk county office as a part of revenue generation efforts.
In central Iowa , six different multi-county sites hosted three-hour workshops taught by Steven Johnson that featured the booklet. A total of 144 participants completed a written evaluation summarizing these workshops. When asked to place a dollar benefit on the workshop and booklet, 37 responses to this evaluation question placed an average of $1,015 per farm operation.
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