Impact of ISU Extension and Outreach leasing programs
With over half of Iowa farmland under some form of lease agreement, leasing is a key issue for the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Farm Management Team. After a peak in the statewide average for cash rents on cropland acres of $270 in 2013, cash rents have been slowly declining. Even so, an estimated $3.6 billion exchanged hands under rental agreements in 2015. The decline in cash rents has not decreased to the same degree that ag revenues have. Due to this, there is increased pressure on farm operations with a large portion of their acres under a rental agreement. As land owners become further removed from the land they own, they look to Iowa State University Extension for an unbiased look at the current farm situation.
In partnership with county staff and private partners, over 80 meetings were held focused on farmland leasing in July, August and September of 2015. Through these meetings ISU Extension and Outreach specialists had attendance of over 1,845 participants at the 2015 leasing meetings. Online resources focused on farmland leasing are heavily downloaded. The ISU Cash Rent Survey was downloaded 164,234 times in 2015. Example cash lease forms were downloaded 138,820 times. Table 1 shows the primary occupation of the leasing audience in 2015.
When asked why participants attend Extension and Outreach farmland leasing meetings, a follow-up survey found almost one-third participated to gain knowledge specifically on rental markets and trends. Twenty-one percent indicated they wanted to learn information for communicating with the other parties involved in the rental agreement. Ninety-five percent of those surveyed were satisfied or very satisfied with the effectiveness of the leasing program.
Program evaluations also asked intended changes for 2016, Figure 1 shows changes participants indicated they would make to their leasing agreements for the 2016 lease year as a results of attending the farmland leasing meeting.
2016 farmland leasing programs
The feedback provided in the 2015 follow-up survey was used in determining the focus of the 2016 program. When asked what topics participants would like to have covered in 2016, cost of production, determining fair rates and taking care of the land were the top 3 issues requested. Forty-four percent of respondents stated they attend year-after-year to hear current information from ISU Extension and Outreach.
While not every unique situation can be covered in the 2-3 hour program, online videos and resources on the Ag Decision Maker Leasing page, as well as farm management staff are available to help Iowan’s with further questions on farmland leasing.
Attend a local meeting
The leasing meetings held across Iowa are facilitated by farm management specialists with ISU Extension and Outreach. A listing of county offices hosting the 2016 meetings is available through the Ag Decision Maker website for July and August.
For registration information, contact your local ISU Extension and Outreach county office. Pre-registration is encouraged as an additional fee may be added if registering less than two calendar days prior to the meeting date.
The Ag Decision Maker leasing section also provides useful materials for negotiating leases, information on various types of leases, lease forms, and newly updated Decision Tools.