There’s a lot of focus right now on the 2020 election, and rightfully so. The opportunity to elect our country’s leaders happens only once every few years. Elections for different government positions happen at certain intervals – every two, four or six years, for example.
That sounds a lot like something most farm leaders deal with – leases for cash rented ground. How often a cash rent lease comes up to renew often varies. It might come up for renewal every single year, or maybe you and your landlord have put a longer-term agreement in place.
Who re-elects you?
As a farm leader you aren’t a politician seeking office or re-election, but you still need to think of your landlords as your constituents – the group of people who can “re-elect” you. They have the power to give you the opportunity to farm their land again, or they have the choice to let someone else farm it.
The real question is: How are you campaigning to be “re-elected” by your landlords? Maybe the next renewal date isn’t for months, or even years. But there are things you can be doing, all year round, to keep your landlords in touch with your farm and help them keep your operation on their minds in a positive way.
Plan it now
Here are three ideas you can put in place to work toward your landlords choosing you to farm their land again.
- Step in their shoes. Whether you have two landlords – or twenty – it’s helpful to start by thinking about exactly who your landlords are. Make sure to consider each landlord individually – because different things are important to them, depending on factors like who they are, whether they live geographically close to the land or far away, their age and their level of familiarity – or lack thereof – with today’s agricultural world and practices. Think about each of these factors for each landlord. If you have a lot of landlords, you might create small groupings of landlords who are similar to each other in multiple factors.
- What they want. Once you’ve thought about who your landlords are, and their similarities and differences, you can start to consider what they want from you as a tenant. You might consider doing a survey – whether formal or informal – of your current landlords. That way, you can find out what’s most important to them. For example, you could ask them to rate the importance of factors like how you maintain their land, how you keep them updated about your crop year, and whether they like to physically (or digitally) visit the farm and ride along with you and others.
- Create your re-election plan. Based on what you find out from your landlords and what you already know about them, you can create and schedule a strategic plan for re-election. You can consider scheduling things like calls, visits and maybe sending out a newsletter with updates about your operation. Figure out how you’ll reach out in a meaningful way to them periodically – not just right before lease renewal time.
Another area on the farm where it’s key to get plans in place ahead of the next crop year is around your operation’s marketing and merchandising. You can find a partner for 2021 planning by getting in touch with our market advisors.