This week, I’ve attended a workshop sponsored by the University of Nebraska – Lincoln Women in Ag and scheduled another workshop for women landowners in south-central Nebraska in mid-August (more info in a future post!). The workshops have got me thinking about women landowners, the possibility for beginning farmers to rent from a woman landlord, and if there are any differences between renting from a woman or renting from a man. These workshops, and previous workshops I’ve attended, demonstrate what the numbers bear out: there is a growing segment of landowners in farming and ranching and it is women.
Women landowners are a growing group and control significant amounts of farmland. In Iowa, women wholly or partially own 51% of the farmland. Some of the women landowners are non-operators, meaning have not operated the farming operation. The converse is that some women landowners are operators. What does this mean for the beginning farmer and for women landlords?
For the beginning farmer, it means that your landlord may be a woman. (And that’s okay!) A woman who likely spent years helping her father and/or husband with their farming operation. A woman who may, it turns out, be a source of immense knowledge of the land, its production history, and farming or ranching in general. A woman who may need a successor. Or a woman who is interested in helping beginning farmers get up off the ground.
For the women landlords, it means that you may have a younger person who may some new ideas they want to try. Maybe the operator wants to expand into value-added agriculture or specialty crops. A person who is invested in the idea of farming or ranching and wants to succeed. A person who may need and want a mentor.
Moreover, there is some evidence that women landowners have different goals and values with regards to use of the land than men. Knowing the goals and values of both the farmer and landowner is critical to creating a long-lasting, stable relationship. So beginners, ask what goals and values the landowner has! Landowners, don’t let someone farm your land without an understanding of your goals and values.
As with all landlord/tenant relationships, the key is communication. Women landlords should communicate what goals and values they have to the land. Tenants should decide if they want to work towards those same goals and if they can operate a successful business with the lease terms offered.
Want someone to further discuss the above issues with? Contact us! We’re happy to help if you are a beginning farmer or a landowner looking to create a business plan and/or succession plan.