Published 1/18/19 in American Farm Publications:  The Delmarva Farmer

(Editor’s note: Sarah Everhart is a senior legal specialist, with the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. The following should not be interpreted as legal or financial advice.)

The Agriculture Law Education Initiative and the Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology Inc. are in the midst of hosting the Agricultural Conservation Leasing Workshop series throughout the state this month. 
The workshop series educates farmers, landowners and agricultural service providers on how to use a farm lease to strengthen farm businesses and support the use on-farm conservation practices. The workshops are supported by a grant from the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program.
Many agricultural best management practices are less prevalent on leased land. With nearly half of Maryland’s farmland being leased, this is an issue that is too large to ignore.
In many cases, farm leasing agreements are made on a handshake.
Although handshakes may work in some cases, such an informal arrangements provide no incentive for farmers to invest in the long-term health of a farm. Attendees at the workshops learn the value of using a simple lease and how the use of a lease can encourage best management practices.
Attendees also learn how to open a dialogue between farmers and landowners about conservation goals and priorities.
The workshops also include a presentation on how more on-farm conservation practices will benefit the Chesapeake Bay clean-up, a chance for attendees to interactively apply learned principles, and a panel of agricultural experts to address participant questions and comments.
Attendees will also earn Maryland Nutrient Management continuing education credits.
According to John Swaine, farmer and workshop attendee, “as a farmer who values both stewardship and profitability, I found the workshop to be very valuable. The leasing information from the workshop would be useful for any landowner or farmer who rents land.”
Upcoming workshops will be held in Frederick, Md., on Jan. 23 and Cockeysville, Md., on Jan. 28.
For more information, and to register, visit the Hughes Center website: http://agresearch.umd.edu/agroecol. All questions about the workshops can be directed to Nancy Nunn, 410-827-8056 or nunn@umd.edu.