WGXC-90.7 FM

Panel on leasing farmland from CLC

Nov 01, 2010 10:27 pm
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="208" caption="Mark Twentyman, recently retired from the Office of Real Property."][/caption]Michael Chameides, who does publicity for the Columbia Land Conservancy, recorded this event with WGXC, a workshop CLC put on for farmers and land owners interested in leasing farmland called “Down to Earth,” Wednesday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. at the First Pioneer Farm Credit East building on Route 9H in Claverack. Click here to listen to a recording of the full workshop, or click here for shorter recordings of different parts of the workshop. Sound mix by CJ DeGenarro.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="208" caption="Paul Freeman, founding partner of Freeman/Howard Law Firm."][/caption]
Chameides writes:

“I wish we had attended a workshop like this three years ago,” noted landowner and panelist Dwayne Powell who leases 46 acres to Threshold Farm. The workshop featured experts in tax code, law, and insurance who gave advice on how to avoid the common pitfalls that farmers and landowner face when leasing land. Mark Twentyman, who recently retired from the Office of Real Property, spoke about the tax benefits related to farming. Landowners with working farms often pay less in property taxes. The tax code is fairly complex and ultimately depends on the assessment determined by the local tax assessor.
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="208" caption="Kirk Kneller, insurance specialist."][/caption]
Twentyman was followed by Paul Freeman, a founding partner of Freeman/Howard Law Firm, who spoke about lease agreements between farmers and landowners. Some of the important keys to a good working relationships are communication and expectations. Freeman emphasized that a good contract will make it clear to both parties what everyone expects and provides a blueprint for the business deal. Insurance specialist Kirk Kneller spoke next. Kneller stressed the importance of the farmer obtaining farm insurance and naming the landowner on the policy. Home insurance will not cover incidents off the property and may not cover farm incidents on the property. Insurance protects the landowner and farmer from unforeseen damages as well as lawsuits. While there are challenges in creating in creating an effective lease agreement, panelist Hugh Williams of Threshold Farm advises, “It’s not difficult at all and not expensive. It’s all manageable and doable.”

The workshop is part of CLC’s farm land support program. Every three days a farm in New York is lost to development and CLC prioritizes the conservation of farmland and particularly works to ensure that working farms remain a central part of Columbia County. Through work with the NY State Farmland Protection Program, CLC has secured more than $6 million in state and private funding on behalf of towns and local farmers, ensuring the protection of approximately 5,280 acres of working farmland. CLC holds conservation easements on over 20,000 acres which ensures the permanent protection of the land. Almost one third of that land is used for working farms. CLC also supports farmers in a number of ways by participating in local committees that address and promote farming, networking, and sharing resources. CLC’s Farmer-Landowner Match Program matches farmers without land to landowners who want their land farmed. CLC helps the farmer and landowner create a lease agreement that is mutually beneficial. Farmers may provide services, money, or crops in exchange for access to quality farmland. “Everybody wins, including local residents who have increased access to local, healthy food,” explains CLC Senior Land Manager Marissa Codey.

Cynthia Creech, a cattle farmer hoping to relocate to Columbia County, was the final speaker. “We have an obligation to take care of the land. Whether you own it or use land that someone else owns. Anybody not involved in farmland, you should get involved because it will make your life better,” says Creech.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="208" caption="Hugh Williams, Threshold Farm; Dwayne Powell, landowner and leaser to Threshold Farm; and Cynthia Creech, cattle farmer."][/caption]
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