Agricultural Conservation Leasing

Agricultural Conservation Leasing

Agricultural Conservation Leasing

What is Agricultural Conservation Leasing?

The Hughes Center in partnership with the University of Maryland Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI) has set out to address a rising need in Maryland — support for implementing conservation practices on leased farmland.

Conservation practices are not commonly used on leased land for a variety of reasons, including inadequate communication between landowners and farmers, limited understanding of conservation programs and available cost-share funding, and a lack of security in the rental relationship. The obstacles to implementing farm conservation practices on leased land can be addressed by opening communication channels and using simple leasing strategies. 

In response, ALEI with support from the Hughes Center has developed an Agricultural Conservation Leasing Guide, meant to help farmers and landowners use leases as a tool to not only protect their business interests but also implement stewardship planning and conservation practices on leased land. Many conservation programs described in this guide are accompanied by suggested considerations and/or sample lease provisions to show how they might be incorporated into a lease. 

In winter 2018 and 19, ALEI and the Hughes Center jointly hosted five regional meetings across the state and one webinar. A majority of the attendees were agricultural service providers, while the meetings also attracted farmers and landowners.

An overall goal of this educational effort is to see 10 farmers make efforts on their leased land to use conservation practices. A one-year follow-up survey taken in spring 2020 found that 20 agricultural service providers have educated 155 farmers and 172 landowners. Of these, 46 farmers have communicated with a landowner about the subject; 67 landowners have communicated with a farmer; and 53 farmers have made efforts to use conservation practices on leased acres.

Download the guide HERE. View more resources below!

Agricultural Conservation Leasing Resources

Agricultural Conservation Leasing Update Webinar

The University of Maryland Agriculture Law Education Initiative and Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology host a webinar on agricultural conservation leasing in Maryland on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. They overview valuable tax information related to conservation, and participants share their thoughts from personal experiences. This webinar was made possible with the support of the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program.

Sarah Everhart, UMD Agriculture Law Education Initiative
(410) 458-2475


This work is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program under subaward number ENE18-151.

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