These are the characteristics of a good tenant farmer
October 31, 2020

These are the characteristics of a good tenant farmer


A landowner who leases farmland needs good tenants. Some might claim that goes without saying, but it’s an important point that is worth driving home.

In these relationships, the tenant’s success is simply the landowner’s success, as well. That’s why anybody who owns farmland needs to trust that they have tenants who are going to work as hard as possible to get the most out of the land, while also caring for the land in a way that will ensure success in the long-term, not just in the short-term.

The question for landowners, though, is how to find that tenant who carries with them that commitment to success. Let’s take a look at some of the characteristics of farmer tenants that can suggest you have found the right person to work your land.

Why you need a good tenant farmer

Keeping farmland in production is important for more than just you, the landowner. Farms create jobs and income for the local area. In many regions, agriculture also creates secondary jobs, which support communities.

So, for landowners who are not involved in farming themselves, this shared community support means finding responsible tenants who can be relied upon to meet goals that translate to everyone’s success and prosperity.

What’s more, whenever a farmland owner entrusts their land to a tenant, that tenant’s performance translates directly to the landowner seeing better results. Since realizing a healthy return on your investment is the name of the game, you need a tenant who is dedicated to achieving production and marketing goals for your land.

Most tenant farmers have long-term relationships with landowners

Before we get into the characteristics you need to look for in a good tenant farmer, we should note that most landowners have, in fact, found great tenants – so it’s possible for you, too, if you are searching at the moment.

How do we know? Well, USDA data shows that 70% of acres that are rented from operator landowners have been rented to a single tenant for more than 3 years. About 28% of tenants renting from operator landowners have been renting for more than 10 years.

As for landowners who do not farm themselves, also known as non-operator landowners, their relationships with tenants tend to be even lengthier. According to the USDA, 84% of acres were rented to the same tenant for more than three years and 41% were rented to the same tenant for more than 10 years.

How you can find quality tenants

There are tenants out there that are more than capable of taking care of your land, too. There are many tenants – most, in fact – who rent from more than one landlord, per the USDA.

So, let’s get the characteristics you need to look for in a tenant farmer.

Good tenants should be clear about objectives

As a landowner, you hopefully know what goals you have for your land. You should have objectives that, when achieved, put you closer toward achieving those goals.

The same can be said for the tenant who is farming your land. They should be able to share their objectives, as well as their goals, and how they plan to accomplish those objectives. This shows motivation, dedication and a commitment to planning ahead – all of which are valuable characteristics of a quality tenant farmer.

Shared values are always a good sign

As a landowner, you may have some tie to the land you are looking to lease. If that’s the case, then you want to find a tenant who will treat your land with respect, but also work in a way that realizes its full potential.

This is where values come into play. Landowners and their tenants should have similar values, especially in areas related to agriculture. This can include production methods, conservation, connection to the local community, etc.

Tenants should be able to communicate well

A good tenant will show good communication skills and will be comfortable communicating regularly with you about how the land is being used and how it is being cared for.

If you can find a tenant who is prepared and willing to send you regular reports and makes themselves available to answer questions you may have, then you have a good one on your hands.

A tenant should be honest

In addition to communicating well, a tenant farmer also needs to show a commitment to honesty during those communications. It’s critical that a tenant and their landowner always be on the same page, which requires honesty when problems arise or questions are asked.

These qualities are both two-way streets that landlords would do well to try to adhere to, as well.

Ability to get to work

Being in touch with the tenant is all well and good, but when it comes down to it, the tenant needs to show that they can be trusted to make decisions. A good landlord will give them enough leeway to take that sort of action, but it’s up to the tenant to make a wise decision and deliver results for both parties.

Be on the lookout for individuals who show that kind of initiative.

Good tenants come with good references

When you are interviewing and doing your due diligence in finding potential tenants, approach the process like a job interview and always check for references.

A good tenant will have references that can back up their professional capabilities and personal qualities that should point you toward whether you may be able to have a successful working relationship with them.

We assist with tenant selection

Finding a good tenant farmer is often more easily said than done. As part of our farm management services, Cotton Grave selects farm tenants for our clients.

If you have an existing client, then they are given preference unless a change is desired. In addition to tenant selection, our team can handle negotiating a crop share or cash rent lease. We are able to build lasting relationships with operators, which translates to success for our clients, as well.

Contact Cotton Grave today to learn more about how we can help your farming operation or the land you own reach your goals and achieve greater success.


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