College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
AGNR Research

Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology

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Agricultural Conservation Leasing

The Hughes Center in partnership with the University of Maryland Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI) has set out to address a rising need in Maryland — support for implementing conservation practices on leased farmland.

In Maryland, there are numerous opportunities for increasing conservation practices on leased land. According to the 2012 U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Census of Agriculture, there were 850,512 acres of leased farmland in Maryland, or 42% of total agricultural acres. While 66% of Maryland’s farmed acres were enrolled in the state cover crop program in 2017, as of 2012, less than 4% of Maryland’s farmland was enrolled in federal conservation programs. Further, in 2017, only 23% of Maryland Agricultural Water Quality Cost-Share (MACS) contracts, a state cost-share program for conservation practices, were with tenants.

Conservation practices are not commonly used on leased land for a variety of reasons, including inadequate communication between landowners and farmers, limited understanding of conservation programs and available cost-share funding, and a lack of security in the rental relationship. The obstacles to implementing farm conservation practices on leased land can be addressed by opening communication channels and using simple leasing strategies. 

In response, ALEI with support from the Hughes Center has developed an Agricultural Conservation Leasing Guide, meant to help farmers and landowners use leases as a tool to not only protect their business interests but also implement stewardship planning and conservation practices on leased land. Many conservation programs described in this guide are accompanied by suggested considerations and/or sample lease provisions to show how they might be incorporated into a lease. 

Download the guide HERE.

ALEI and the Hughes Center are also hosting a series of workshops around this issue in winter 2018-19. More information including dates and locations can be found HERE.

 

Agricultural Conservation Leasing Continued Education

The University of Maryland Agriculture Law Education Initiative and the Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology provide educational slides for those who train and educate others on agricultural conservation leasing.

Agricultural Conservation Leasing education slides can be found HERE.

Please log any Agricultural Conservation Leasing training you have performed through THIS LINK that takes you to our survey.

 

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