Leasing Farmland in New Jersey: A Guide for Landowners and Farmers

This guide is designed to help answer the questions landowners and farmers may have when considering leasing. How long should the lease be? What provisions should be included? How much should the rental rate be? And what are the motivations and interests of the other party? With information gathered from conversations with New Jersey landowners and farmers, and from research of other states’ leasing guides, ‘Leasing Farmland in New Jersey’ includes sections on Getting Started, Creating and Maintaining Your Lease, Sample Leases, Leasing Profiles, and Additional Resources. Printed copies of the guide are also available by contacting the SADC or NOFA-NJ.

Lease Planning Worksheet – For Farmers

When considering a lease agreement for the land you need, it is important to clearly identify your plans and goals at the beginning of the process and to evaluate the agricultural capabilities of potential properties. This worksheet, designed as a companion to the “Leasing Farmland in New Jersey” guidebook, is designed with beginning farmers in mind, to help with outlining your farm business needs and assessing the suitability of potential properties for your needs.

Lease Planning Worksheet – For Landowners

When considering a lease agreement for your land, it is important to clearly identify your goals and expectations at the beginning of the process and to assess your land’s agricultural capabilities. This worksheet, designed as a companion to the “Leasing Farmland in New Jersey” guidebook, is designed to help landowners clarify their farm vision and understand the basics about their land.

NOFA-NJ Beginning Farmer Resources

The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey (NOFA-NJ) offers several courses, programs, and resources for beginning farmers. “Exploring the Small Farm Dream” is a short course to help aspiring farmers decide if starting a new farm business is right for them. “Tilling the Soil of Opportunity” is an agricultural business planning course for new and experienced farmers. And the Journeyperson Program provides hands-on support, training, and mentorship for intermediate beginning farmers. NOFA-NJ also sponsors twilight farmer meetings, coordinates an annual winter conference, and offers other support for farmers and landowners. Contact NOFA-NJ for more information on its beginning farmer programs and services.

Site Evaluation Guide

The purpose of this worksheet is to help landowners and beginning farmers make informed decisions about the suitability of their land for different types of farming operations. The worksheet includes space for identifying a property’s general information, natural resources, soils, field features, and infrastructure and equipment, so that this information can be compared to what is needed for a prospective farm business. This site evaluation worksheet was developed by NOFA-NJ.

Web Soil Survey

Web Soil Survey is an online tool provided by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that provides soil data and information on farms throughout New Jersey (and the rest of the country). Farmers and landowners can use the website to identify a farm property’s soil types, perform soil mapping for the property, and access detailed information about soil types and their suitability for different uses.

Rutgers Cooperative Extension

Rutgers Cooperative Extension county offices are staffed by agricultural agents and specialists who can provide information on agricultural production, natural resources, and other farming topics, to help assess your land or farm business.

Cornell Small Farms Program

The Cornell Small Farms Program provides a range of resources for aspiring, new, and beginning farmers. Resources include online courses led by experienced educators and farmers, farming resource guides, and worksheets, tutorials, and FAQs for helping farmers develop written farm plans.

GrowNYC Beginning Farmer Program

Coordinated by the nonprofit GrowNYC, this program helps aspiring farmers who have agricultural experience establish their own sustainable farm businesses in the NYC region. The program includes a farm planning course (Farm Beginnings) as well as technical assistance with identifying farmland, access to capital, marketing support, and other farm business details. Participating farmers may create NJ Land Link listings to seek access to land in New Jersey.

USDA New Farmers Site

The USDA New Farmers website is designed to be a clearinghouse of programs and resources for new and aspiring farmers. People who are thinking about farming, as well as those who are already farming, can search for resources by topic. The site organizes its beginning farmer resource links by topics such as: learning how to run a farm business (farm planning); finding financing; locating services and technical assistance; and connecting with others and building relationships. The website is a service of the USDA National Agricultural Library.

Farm Service Agency

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) coordinates a number of loan and other farm programs, including those that make farm-ownership and farm-operating loans available to qualified beginning farmers. FSA has offices in each state, including New Jersey. For more information on FSA loan programs and terms, visit the FSA website.

FarmStart

This program from Farm Credit East is designed to help beginning farmers access working capital for their farm businesses and develop a successful credit history. Farmers, generally in their first three years of business, are eligible to apply for working capital loans of up to $50,000 with minimal interest and repayment terms of up to five years. A business plan is required, and each beginning farmer has the opportunity to work with an adviser, develop their credit record, and learn the discipline of effective cash flow management.

SADC Beginning Farmer Resources

The State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) maintains a page of “Resources for Beginning Farmers,” with short descriptions of websites, publications, programs, and organizations that may be helpful people exploring the idea of farming and those who have already started. The SADC website also has resource pages on “Access to Land and Farming Opportunities,” “Finding Farmers for Your Land” (for landowners), and “Leasing Farmland” (for landowners and farmers).

Field to Farm Project

Coordinated by the Monmouth Conservation Foundation, this project helps landowners connect with farmers and resources to ensure their farmland remains farmed. If you own land and are looking to keep it in agriculture, your land might be an opportunity for a local farmer who is looking to expand, gain experience, or get started. Monmouth County landowners can contact the Field to Farm Project to learn more about of this resource.