Deadline nearing to renegotiate farmland leases
November 18, 2015
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Tenant farmers wanting to renegotiate farmland leases for 2016 may need to deliver written notification to their landlord before Dec. 1, a Purdue expert on agricultural law advises.
The Indiana notification deadline is three months before the end of the current crop year unless the two sides have agreed on a different date, said Gerald Harrison, professor of agricultural economics and a member of the Indiana State Bar Association.
By custom in Indiana, crop years end on the last day of February. Accordingly, the current crop year ends on Feb. 29, 2016 for the purpose of setting the notification deadline, providing the existing lease has no other stipulation.
If no changes are made to the lease, the existing terms remain in place for the next year.
“With many farmers feeling the financial pinch of lower grain prices, landowners and property managers might be more likely to consider reducing cash rents for next year,” Harrison said. “Since land values and rents have been relatively high in recent years, landowners might be more understanding if tenants ask for a reduction in the 2016 cash rent or modification in other lease terms.”
The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled that notification to terminate or change a farmland lease must be made in writing and properly identify the property. Although tenants are not required to file a copy of the notification with anyone but their landlord, Harrison recommends providing a duplicate to the local office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.
Although there may be time yet this year to provide notification of lease changes, Harrison suggests landowners and tenants should consider earlier deadlines for setting lease terms.
“In the future, for those who have not agreed to an earlier notice date, it might be beneficial for both sides to require notice before September of the current crop year,” he said.
Landlords and tenants should agree in writing to an earlier notification date.
Harrison said effective delivery of the legal notice is as important as the content of the document and the timing of the delivery.
“The help of an attorney may be wise to draft the notification and properly deliver the notice to be sure it is effective,” he said.
Harrison said farmers could refer to the 2016 Purdue Crop Cost & Return Guide for help in creating a budget for next year. The guide is available on the Center for Commercial Agriculture website at https://ag.purdue.edu/commercialag/Pages/default.aspx in the “management and strategy” section under the “resources” tab.
Writer: Darrin Pack, 765-494-8415, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Gerald Harrison, 765-494-4216, email@example.com