UM’s Agriculture Law Education Initiative and Hughes Center Launch Online Agricultural Conservation Lease Builder Tool

Published in UMB News on December 16, 2023

The University of Maryland’s Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI) and the Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology, Inc., recently launched the Agricultural Conservation Lease Builder to help farmers and farm landowners, throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, create agricultural leases. The Lease Builder is a free online tool that guides users through questions about farm and conservation practices to generate a customized draft lease with suggested provisions to support those practices. The tool is intended to support farmers and farm landowners in protecting business interests, encourage environmental stewardship, and support on-farm conservation practices.

The Lease Builder asks for information such as landowner and tenant information, property information, the length of the lease, activities the farmer may practice, and the farm’s conservation plan. The tool is free to use, and th process should take users less than an hour to complete. After building a draft lease, parties are strongly encouraged to seek individual legal advice prior to execution.

According to Sarah Everhart, JD, senior legal specialist, ALEI, “Our hope is that this new tool will help both farmers and farm landowners put their handshake agreement into a simple lease document. By referencing specific on-farm conservation practices in the lease, leasing parties can set clear expectations about stewardship and reduce the potential for legal conflict.”

In addition to the Lease Builder tool, the site offers valuable resources related to on-farm conservation, including information about common conservation practices, cost-share programs, and conservation planning. The Agricultural Conservation Lease Builder was funded by the Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment. The tool can be accessed at Anyone with questions about the Agricultural Conservation Lease Builder may contact Sarah Everhart at


The Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI) is a collaboration of the Francis King Carey School of Law at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB); the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources at the University of Maryland (UMCP); and the School of Agriculture and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES). ALEI is an initiative of the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State, a collaboration between UMB and UMCP. This partnership leverages the sizable strengths and complementary missions of both institutions to strengthen Maryland’s innovation economy, advance interdisciplinary research, create opportunities for students, and solve important problems for the people of Maryland and the nation.