Air January 8 - 12, 2007
Kansas Ag Lease Law
This is Ag Outlook 2007 on 1420 KJCK, I'm Chuck Otte, Geary County, K-State Research and Extension Ag & Natural Resources Agent. Numerous surveys have shown that over 50% of all Kansas farmland and pastureland is rented. Additional surveys in north central Kansas have also shown that most active farmers have somewhere between 3 and 5 landlords with a few exceeding 10. With an aging population of both farmers and land owners, I see no change in this, in fact the amount of rented ag land could increase. Kansas law makers have long recognized the need for good laws relating to agricultural leases. A lease is a contract and in most instances, contract law is applied to ag leases. But ag leases are also quite different from standard real estate leases. There are special considerations because of the nature of the crops that we grow and in fact the law regarding ag leases is often quite different than what tradition has held. This has sometimes caught landowners especially off guard, and sometimes a few tenants. January is a critical month to review and renew, or possibly terminate ag leases, especially verbal leases, which are recognized as legal and binding in Kansas. I don't like oral leases, because they are quite often very inflexible and rigid due to the nature of the law. If a verbal lease is going to be terminated, it must be done in writing at least 30 days prior to March 1st, or by January 29th. I want to spend some time in these programs over the next couple of weeks talking about ag leases, Kansas ag lease law and things that can help both landlords and tenants have a smoother relationship. I also want to point out that we have a great bulletin on ag lease law so contact the office for a copy. This has been Ag Outlook 2007 on the Talk of JC, 1420 KJCK, I'm Chuck Otte.
Termination of an oral Agricultural Lease
This is Ag Outlook 2007 on 1420 KJCK, I'm Chuck Otte, Geary County, K-State Research and Extension Ag & Natural Resources Agent. Kansas ag lease law recognizes verbal leases as legal and binding. But because of the nature of verbal or oral leases, the state has also stepped forward and developed some rather stringent statutes regulating oral leases. The portion of the ag lease law that really is important at this time of year has to do with the termination of a lease. The law states that notice to terminate an oral lease must be given in writing, at least 30 days prior to March 1st and sets the termination date as March 1st. The exception is land planted to wheat or another fall seeded annual crop, alfalfa has its own special specifications. For wheat ground, the lease terminates the day after the last day of harvest, or August 1, whichever comes first. All of these items must be spelled out in the notice to terminate or the notice is invalid and the tenant has the land for another crop year. A sample notice of termination letter is included in our K-State Research and Extension Bulletin on Ag Lease Law which I really encourage you to pick up - it's free of charge at the Extension Office. I strongly encourage landlords and tenants to sit down before January 29th and discuss their lease. If a landlord wants to make a change in the oral lease, it needs to be ironed out prior to January 29th. If it isn't, then the terms of the previous lease continue and it is too late to issue a notice of termination. Or, if one of the parties wants to convert the oral lease to a written lease, which I strongly encourage because of the increased flexibility, then it needs to be accomplished by January 29th, or the old lease continues. January, it really is crunch time for the agricultural leases! This has been Ag Outlook 2007 on the Talk of JC, 1420 KJCK, I'm Chuck Otte.
Communications in Lease Negotiations
This is Ag Outlook 2007 on 1420 KJCK, I'm Chuck Otte, Geary County, K-State Research and Extension Ag & Natural Resources Agent. The most common problem that I find in agricultural leases and lease negotiation is communication. The landlord and tenant just aren't talking as much as they should be. I won't point fingers and say that either party is more to blame than the other, it seems to be very evenly shared failure. Why is communication so important? A few decades ago, the landlords usually still lived on the land or perhaps in a nearby town. They were almost always retired farmers, so they understood what was involved in farming and were probably far more trusting than any of us are today. Today, landlords may be the children or grandchildren of the last person to have lived and farmed on the land, or they may never have even had a relative that farmed, they just wanted to buy some land. They are usually not even living in the same county as the land, they may not even be in the same state. And their knowledge of farming, ranching and agricultural practices may be next to zero. This isn't a criticism, it is simple fact and points out the need for LOTS of communication. And to my way of thinking, it falls upon the tenant to be not just a tenant, but a teacher as well. That requires phone calls or emails to let the landlord know what's going on at that time of year and what to expect. You can't assume that the landlord knows anything at all. When you ask them if it's okay to burn pastures, explain why you are burning the pasture and point out that many cedar trees will die when this happens. Find out what the owner's expectations are for the land. What they want me be far different than what you want. Communications have to be the basis for a good lease. This has been Ag Outlook 2007 on the Talk of JC, 1420 KJCK, I'm Chuck Otte.
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