It has been said that a "contract is no better than the word of those who sign it." On the other hand, a written contract is still an essential business practice when leasing farm property. It forces detailed consideration, communication, and understanding by both parties. It serves as a reference in the event details are forgotten or there is a death of the tenant or landlord.
Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, by reducing their agreement to writing, the parties may be able to avoid much of the cost associated with litigating disputes regarding respective rights and obligations under the contract. Most of the time, if an issue is addressed in writing, parties will (and should) respect the plain language of the contract. The contract should encourage the most profitable, long-term operation of the farm and be beneficial for both parties.
The farm rental contract checklist will assist tenants and landlords to consider components of a well designed lease agreement. This fact sheet, along with any additional sample leasing materials provided by Michigan Farm Bureau, is not intended to take the place of sound legal advice provided by an attorney working with either party. Michigan Farm Bureau recommends that both parties consult an attorney prior to entering into a contractual agreement. It is advisable to have an attorney for one party prepare the lease, with a review by the attorney for the other party.
Click here for a Michigan State University publication highlighting owner and operator considerations for cash cropland leasing.