TheCenter for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) at Vermont Law School launched a free Farm Lease Builder as part of their Farmland Access Legal Toolkit. The Farm Lease Builder creates a free customized lease draft for farmers based on their specific needs, significantly reducing the cost of legal services.
In the United States, about 40% of land is considered farmland, and 40% of this land is leased. Agricultural lease agreements are essential to farming, especially for new farmers who may not have the financial resources to own farmland or to access legal services needed to create a lease. In addition to protecting legal rights, leases can provide long-term stability to foster land improvement for agricultural purposes, including sustainable farming practices.
“Land access is currently one of the biggest hurdles for new farmers in the United States,” says Laurie Beyranevand, CAFS Director. “The Farmland Access Legal Toolkit assists new as well as retiring farmers through a suite of resources that offers innovative models of ownership, leasing, and estate planning that have worked for other farmers in similar situations. We’re excited to add the Farm Lease Builder to the Toolkit.”
"This tool provides a comprehensive process for helping farmers and landowners think through how they'd like to handle issues that commonly arise in a farm lease situation,” explains Amanda Heyman, CAFS project partner and consultant. “Having thought through these issues in advance and having come to a common understanding, the parties to the agreement are much more likely to have a successful business relationship. Also, it helps to have something in black and white to refer back to a few years into the lease, when it's hard to remember exactly what was agreed upon, and to help resolve disputes.”
“The Farm Lease Builder makes time with an attorney more efficient and less expensive, since lawyers often charge by the hour,” says Emily Spiegel, CAFS Assistant Professor. “Of course, this tool cannot replace personalized legal advice from an attorney, but it walks farmers through the decision-making process and creates a draft lease in a Word document that their lawyer can review and easily edit if needed.”
Free to use, the Farm Lease Builder is available online atfarmleasebuilder.org.