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Lease advice from a farmer

Bennett Collins of Harvest Moon Catering (Bremen ME) leases farmland for his vegetable operation. His landlord is very supportive of his goals and cooperative in negotiations. Bennett has great respect and regard for his landlord and is careful to be mindful of the unique historic and scenic situation of the land and barn that make up the leasehold.

Bennett Collins (photo credit: Harvest Moon)

When interviewed by Jo Barrett of Land For Good, he shared the following thoughts about leasing farmland.

  1. Mutual benefit is the absolute key when a farmer and land owner negotiate a lease. “We’re essentially partners in this.” Partners need to see how they benefit from a partnership
  2. Mutual respect helps preserve the relationship when it becomes trying. When it gets tough and frustrating to negotiate with a person it is hard to remember to respect that person.
  3. Education: the farmer should help the land owner understands the realities of farming. Friction points require education such as documenting why you have particular needs or have to do things in a particular way. You might show receipts from expenditures to show why you need to have a longer-term lease. The landowner needs to be willing to listen and be open to ideas. Be mindful of what people don’t know and help fill in the blanks.
  4. Be kind and sweet in your dealings. You can maintain boundaries and still be nice. The tone of your dealings is very important.
  5. Follow through with promises. If you agreed to do something, do it. Establish a track record for doing what you said you’d do. Don’t commit to something that you won’t be able to get to or won’t want to do. Your reputation is on the line and that affects future negotiations.
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