Lease Agreements

Maryland Cash Rental Rates

Cash rent lease agreements are the most popular type of lease agreement in Maryland. Cash rent is a fixed amount on a per-acre basis. In this agreement, the owner is relieved of operating and marketing decisions and income is known year to year. The tenant has the risk and returns from the crop and can make crop and livestock decisions.

The USDA, National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) provides the county data in response to requests from customers as well as a requirement of the Farm Bill. Estimates of average cash rental rates per acre for irrigated cropland, non-irrigated cropland, and pastureland are published at the County, District, and State level where possible. This is based on responses to annual farm-level surveys. 

Maryland Crop Cash Rental Rate Report 

Lease Agreement Introduction

According to USDA's National Agricultural Statistic Service (NASS), agricultural producers lease over 42 percent of all agricultural land in Maryland, or 850,512 acres in 2012 (Ag Census, 2012). Leases for agricultural real estate, equipment, and/or livestock take different forms to meet the needs of the landlord and the tenant. This guide provides an overview of various land leasing issues facing agricultural landowners and agricultural land tenants and raises issues important from both a landowner's and tenant farmer's perspective.


Ag Leasing Basics (Ag Law by ALEI)
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Presenter: Paul Goeringer
Description: Roughly 30 percent of all agricultural land in Maryland is rented. Farmland is rented by established producers or beginning farmers looking to enter agriculture. This video will highlight the basics needed to have a valid lease and when a lease needs to be in writing. Factors to consider when developing a fair rental rate will be discussed. Finally, issues to consider when negotiating the lease will be highlighted.

Using a Residential Lease to Lease Farmland
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Presenter: Paul Goeringer
Description: A common mistake made by many new farmers and new landowners is using a residential form lease. Extension Legal Specialist Paul Goeringer will discuss why using a form residential lease is potentially a bad idea. Paul will also discuss resources available online to aid you in developing an agricultural land lease.

Harvesting Crops After the Lease Ends
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Presenter: Paul Goeringer
Description: What rights does the tenant have in the growing crop? This question may be answered in multiple ways depending on the type of crops being grown, language in the lease, and other factors. University of Maryland Extension Legal Specialist Paul Goeringer will discuss what happens when the issue is not addressed in the lease and simple language you can include in your lease that will quickly resolve this issue.


How to Lease Your Land With A Conservation Easement, FS-1049 (pdf)
By Mayhah Suri, and Paul Goeringer
A conservation easement is a right or power which a landowner gives to a third party. Landowners may choose to donate easements for a variety of reasons, including tax benefits and/ or an interest in land conservation for environmental or other concerns. This guide walks through some legal considerations for landowners interested in leasing land with an easement for agricultural use.

Agricultural Leasing In Maryland, EB-403 (pdf)
By Paul Goeringer, Extension Legal Specialist, Department of Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics  | Published 2013
Maryland farmers understand the importance of leases in their operations. From land to equipment, Maryland farmers use varying forms of agreements in their business operations. This publication will provide an overview of some issues to be considered by both landlords and tenants when negotiating lease agreements.

Fillable pdf Documents*

Fixed Cash Lease

Flex Cash Lease
Crop Share Lease Termination Letter
*These leases can be filled out on a computer using Adobe Acrobat Reader (for Windows users) or Preview (for Mac users), you may have to update to the most recent editions of either program. Just click on the lines you would ordinarily fill out by hand and type in the information. Print out two copies of the completed document to be signed by both the landowner and tenant. Users should remember that these forms are provided to aid landowners and tenants in developing their own leases that fit their situations. Both parties should always consider seeking out legal counsel in developing such agreements.

Conservation Ag Lease Builder

The Conservation Ag Lease Builder is a FREE, new resource for farmers and landowners in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Build your custom farm lease to: Protect business interests; Incorporate stewardship planning; and Implement conservation practices on leased land.

The Lease Builder has easy-to-answer leasing questions, including the selection of common on-farm conservation practices – to generate a customized draft lease with suggested provisions to support those practices. Funding for the site was made possible by the Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment. For questions about the Lease Builder, contact Sarah Everhart:


Additional Resources


Landlord-Tenant Communication (presented by Jennifer Rhodes on May 4, 2015)

Agriculture Mediation Programs (presented by Mae Johnson on May 4, 2015)

Maryland FarmLink (presented by Greg Bowen on May 11, 2015)

Leasing Considerations and Developing a Rental Rate (presented by Paul Goeringer on May 11, 2015)

This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2012-49200-20031

Some of the research on this page is funded by: