Consider this with farm crop leases


Tony Nye - OSU Extension



I believe our days are numbered as to how many more spring like days we will have. I don’t know about all of you, but I have liked it! It has allowed for a steady harvest our farming community has enjoyed.

The negative to all this – we need rain.

Sounds like we may get some rain this weekend which will give area farmers an opportunity to catch their breath before finishing this falls grain harvest. I do not want so much that it starts causing issues to finish harvest, but some would be welcomed.

As for harvest, it is moving along quite nicely with almost all the soybeans in the county harvested and probably 50 percent or more of the corn harvested. It sounds like farm families will be quite thankful this Thanksgiving as yield reports have been quite favorable for both soybean and corn yields.

This is also a time of year I start getting many phone calls about rent, rent prices and questions regarding rental agreements.

With that in mind, I thought it would be good to share information regarding Ohio’s new statutory termination date for farm crop leases.

Peggy Kirk Hall, Associate Professor OSU Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program recently provided the following information: A new Ohio law effective on July 21, 2022, will impact some landlords who want to terminate their farm crop leases.

If the farm lease does not establish a date or method for terminating the lease, the law requires a landlord who wants to terminate the lease to do so in writing by September 1. The law’s goal is to prevent “late” terminations that can harm tenant operators who have made investments for the next crop season.

What farm leases are subject to the new law?

The law applies to both written and verbal “agricultural lease agreements” that address the planting, growing, and harvesting of agricultural crops. The law does not apply to leases for pasture, timber, farm buildings, horticultural buildings, or equipment.

What if a lease already addresses termination?

The new law only applies when a leasing arrangement has not provided for a termination date or a method for giving notice of termination.

If the landlord and tenant operator have addressed these provisions in their leasing situation, the provisions are unchanged by the law and continue to be effective.

When is the termination effective?

If a landlord gives notice of termination in writing by September 1, the lease is terminated either upon the date harvest is complete or December 31, whichever is earlier.

The law allows the parties to establish a different termination date if agreed to in writing.

How must a landlord give notice of termination?

The landlord must give the notice in writing and deliver it to the tenant operator by hand, mail, facsimile, or email by September 1.

The law does not require using specific language for the notice, but we recommend including the date of the notice, an identification of the lease property, and a statement that the lease will terminate at the end of harvest or December 31, 20__ unless the parties agree in writing to a different date.

What if a landlord terminates after September 1?

Unless the leasing arrangement provides otherwise, a termination delivered by the landlord after September is not effective and the lease would continue for another period. However, the tenant operator could agree to accept the late termination. If so, the parties should both sign a termination date agreement.

Can a tenant terminate a lease after September 1?

A tenant operator is not subject to the new law and can terminate a lease after September 1 unless the leasing arrangement provides otherwise.

The value of a written farm lease: The new law arose because many farm leases aren’t in writing, creating uncertainty over termination rights. A written lease is invaluable for agreeing to important farm lease terms like termination.

If you need legal assistance getting your lease in writing, check out our farm lease resources and contact us for a referral to an agricultural attorney.

It’s money well spent.

You can find the new farm crop lease statutory termination law in Ohio Revised Code Section 5301.71.

Some other information Peggy Hall has provided in the past pertains to creating an enforceable lease. A farmland lease is a valuable transaction for landowners and farmers alike.

It’s important to ensure that a lease conforms to Ohio’s legal requirements and can be enforced in a court of law if there is a dispute.

These steps will help you create a legally enforceable farm lease:

• Put the lease agreement in writing.

• Include the identity of the land parcel by legal description, address and acreage amount.

• Include all owners or co-owners in the lease, including spouses that co-own the land.

• Use the correct legal names of all parties.

• Make sure all parties sign the lease.

• For businesses, make sure the person signing has legal authority to represent the business.

• For a lease over three years, have a notary or county official certify the parties’ signatures.

• Take the lease or a “memorandum of lease” to the county recorder’s office for recording.

• To ensure that your lease is valid and fully addresses your needs, rely on the expertise of an agricultural attorney.

For more information from OSU Extension’s Agriculture & Resource Law Program, visit http://farmoffice.osu.edu.

Sign up at http://farmoffice.osu.edu/blog to receive the Ohio Ag Law Blog by e-mail.

Contact them at [email protected]

Tony Nye is the state coordinator for the Ohio State University Extension Small Farm Program and has been an OSU Extension Educator for agriculture and natural resources for over 30 years, currently serving Clinton County and the Miami Valley EERA.

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Tony Nye

OSU Extension