BALTIMORE — The Agriculture Law Education Initiative and the Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology, Inc. (Hughes Center) are in the midst of hosting the Agricultural Conservation Leasing Workshop series throughout the state this month.
The workshop series educates farmers, landowners and agricultural service providers on how to use a farm lease to strengthen farm businesses and support the use on-farm conservation practices. The workshops are supported by a grant from the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program.
Many agricultural best management practices are less prevalent on leased land. With nearly half of Maryland’s farmland being leased, this is an issue that is too large to ignore. In many cases, farm leasing agreements are made on a handshake. Although handshakes may work in some cases, such an informal arrangement provide no incentive for farmers to invest in the long-term health of a farm.
Attendees at the workshops learn the value of using a simple lease and how the use of a lease can encourage best management practices. Attendees also learn how to open a dialogue between farmers and landowners about conservation goals and priorities.
The workshops also include a presentation on how more on-farm conservation practices will benefit the Chesapeake Bay clean-up, a chance for attendees to interactively apply learned principles, and a panel of agricultural experts to address participant questions and comments. Attendees will also earn Maryland Nutrient Management continuing education credits.
“As a farmer who values both stewardship and profitability, I found the workshop to be very valuable,” said John Swaine, farmer and workshop attendee. “The leasing information from the workshop would be useful for any landowner or farmer who rents land.”
An upcoming workshop will be held in Cockeysville, Md., on Jan. 28. For more information, and to register please visit the Hughes Center website, http://agresearch.umd.edu/agroecol. All questions about the workshops can be directed to Nancy Nunn, 410-827-8056 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Sarah Everhart
Agriculture Law Education Initiative