Introduction to Land Leases

In New England, many farmers choose to lease their farmland instead of buying it. It is important to think about what your farmland lease will include and advocate for yourself so that the provisions that you need are in the lease. This guide discusses several of the issues that you should think about including in your lease with the help of your lawyer.

Farmland Leases

While many farm leases are done with a handshake, this practice is not a good idea because there is no written agreement in the event of a disagreement between the parties. A well-written lease agreement will make the lease terms clear and leave less opportunity for misunderstanding and reduces the likelihood of a potential conflict between a landowner and a farmer.

Alternative Ways to Buy The Farm

This Guide explores the following alternative ways to purchase farmland:

  • Seller-financed land acquisition
  • Purchase by installments
  • Lease with an option to purchase.

Farm Succession Advising: An Attorney Training Guide

Among beginning (and other) farmers’ biggest challenges is accessing land, including land and farms in the hands of older farmers. Therefore, how those farmers transition their farms to the next generation (family or unrelated) is of utmost importance. Land For Good’s Training Guide provides attorneys with solid legal background material and technical tools to use in assisting farmer clients to develop their farm succession plans.

Elements of a Farmland Lease

When a farmer works with a landowner to put together a farmland lease, there are many important considerations. This webinar will inform farmers and nonprofit farm organizations about the key elements that should be in a farmland lease.

Presenter: Jeff Polubinski, Gravel & Shea.

A Working Guide to Current Use Taxation for Agricultural Lands

Developed by Vermont Law School’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, “A Working Guide to Current Use Taxation for Agricultural Lands” provides an overview of current use policies across the U.S. 

Current use programs—which generally allow farmers to pay taxes on their land at current (agricultural) value rather than its assessed value for another non-farming use—are an important tool in the farmland preservation toolbox. 

Written by Vermont Law School adjunct professor Jess Phelps, this guide explains the concept of current use and examines current use policies and programs. Identifying common challenges and opportunities, it aims to help policymakers adapt current use programs to modern farmland preservation needs. It also dives into a case study of current use in Vermont to explore how a program functions at the farm level, and includes a handy reference guide to state current use statutes across the country.

This guide was funded by the National Agricultural Library, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Understanding Purchase and Sale Agreements

A purchase and sale agreement is the document that establishes the steps of the transaction, as well as the responsibilities of the Seller and the Buyer. Purchasing real estate can seem like a complicated process but we will walk you through it.

During this webinar, Massachusetts attorney Richard Cavanaugh of Common Grow, LLC will discuss typical provisions in a purchase and sale agreement. He will also cover some other issues – like zoning and wetland restrictions – that you should consider when deciding whether or not to buy a property.

Presenter: Attorney Rich Kavanaugh, Common Grow LLC.

Buying the Farm – Part I

Farmers can obtain rights to farmland in a variety of ways, for example, by entering into a lease with the owner of the farmland, sharing ownership of the land with others, or acquiring full ownership (“fee simple” title) of the farmland. Part I of this Guide focuses on:

(i) the different types of land ownership,

ii) the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing the farmland directly through fee simple ownership, and

(iii) considerations when locating the right farmland to purchase.

Buying the Farm – Part II

Once a deal has been negotiated, a farmer works with the land owner to buy farmland for the agreed-upon purchase price. Part II of this Guide focuses on

(i) the elements of a Purchase and Sale Agreement,

ii) the investigation “due diligence” process that every farmer should undertake,

(iii) the deed and other acquisition closing documents, and

(iv) the closing.

Vermont’s Current Use Program

This legal guide provides a brief overview of Vermont’s Current Use Program—a state program designed to keep taxes on working lands affordable so long as land is being used for active agricultural purposes. The guide includes a high-level summary of the Program, including:

  • Eligibility requirements for enrolling
  • Steps for applying
  • How to maintain enrolled status and how to withdraw from the Program
  • How to transfer ownership of enrolled land

Urban Agriculture in the City of Boston

Did you know that Boston has an ordinance that covers urban farming?  Article 89 is part of the Boston land zoning laws.  It covers urban agriculture activities in Boston such as farming, hydroponics and beekeeping and more.  The City of Boston prepared this guide to demystify the language of the actual rule.  After reading this guide, you will have a better understanding of:

  • the rules covering land use and permitting requirements
  • the permitted location and size of ground-level farms, roof-top farms and freight farms
  • soil safety guidelines for urban farming
  • keeping bees and chickens.

Massachusetts Chapter 61 Tax Program

Chapter 61 programs offer a property tax break for landowners willing to keep their land undeveloped for a specified period of time. This guide provides all you need to know about the Massachusetts Chapter 61 Tax program.  After reading this guide, you will know:

  • description of Chapter 61 programs in forestry, agriculture and open space
  • minimum acreage to qualify for the program
  • types of land eligible for the Chapter 61 programs
  • tax benefits of the Chapter 61 programs
  • what happens if you withdraw from the program

This informative guide was prepared by University of Massachusetts Extension.