At the workshop on March 16th, roughly 2/3rds of the 36 attendees were leasing land or have land to lease. Some of those who leased land told humorous anecdotes about failed leasing agreements. The remaining third of attendees were actively seeking land to lease.
I was joined by Jenny Rhodes, Extension agent from Queen Anne’s County, Mae Johnson, Director of the Maryland Agricultural Conflict Resolution Service, and Paul Goeringer, an attorney at University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture & Natural Resources.
Roughly 64% of all Maryland farmland is leased and nearly all of the leases are arranged by a handshake. That method may be the simplest but it is fraught with potential misunderstandings and disagreements as evidenced by the anecdotes brought up by the attendees.
My role was to highlight the changes in agriculture and the free leasing resources on Maryland FarmLINK for farmers and land owners. Jenny described her own experiences as a farmer and extension agent with leasing and provided suggestions as to how to improve communication between land owners and farmers leasing the land. Mae described Maryland’s Right to Farm legislation and how her Conflict Resolution Service can keep both parties out of court when misunderstandings turn into disagreements.
Paul Goeringer highlighted Maryland’s leasing laws and pressed the point that both parties benefit from a good written lease (a recommendation from all four presenters). Then he presented the key elements of a lease.
We started the meeting with a good meal, had an engaged and appreciative audience and finished on time. We even witnessed discussions between owners and farmers seeking land. Next, our road tour turns to Lower Eastern Shore on April 6th in Princess Anne!