I want to lease my land to someone who raises grass-fed beef in a holistic or sustainable way. Where can I find a set of principles or rules I can incorporate into our lease to ensure that they observe and follow those practices?
Answer: As with almost any lease situation, there are rarely any guarantees and both parties must keep their end of the agreement. Despite the best planning and efforts on both sides, unforeseen circumstances can arise that will have to be dealt with as they arise. To help ensure a successful lease experience, be sure that expectations and responsibilities are clearly stated and understood by both parties. ATTRA has two publications outlining sustainable pasture management and production techniques, entitled Organic and Grass-fed Beef Cattle Production and Pasture, Rangeland, and Grazing Management (see links below). You will find many sustainable production practices that you may want to write in to your lease language.Pasture management practices would likely be the main items you would want to include in your lease?how often will cattle be rotated, how many animals will be grazed (stocking rate and density), the level of grass that will be left (residual growth) in pastures after cattle are rotated, the rest period of a given pastured for grass to become fully recovered, specific dates cattle will cattle be put on and taken off grass, the plan for drought, how weeds or unwanted plants will be dealt with, etc. Be sure to specify if your property is organic, as this will determine what, if any, fertilizers can be used on the property. You may want to include how and what the lessee can fertilize with or use as soil amendments. The above-referenced ATTRA publications provide more information on these topics.Are there any creeks or ponds on the land? If so, you may want to include language about protecting the water sources and managing access to them. If your land has a riparian area, how will that be managed? If access is denied to a stream, you will need to provide an alternate water source for the cattle. There are other important factors to consider when leasing out grazing land. Is the lease long- or short-term? Who is responsible for fixing fences? What improvements, if any, do you expect to be made to the property during that time? Also, be sure to express that you expect the land to be maintained during the lease and returned in the same condition or better at the end of the lease. For more information:*Organic and Grass-fed Beef Cattle Production, https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=193*Pasture, Rangeland, and Grazing Management, https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=246