Plan For Drought When Preparing Pasture Lease
Drought can really play havoc on pasture leases. All too often, pasture leases fail to include an appropriate plan to adjust to this problem.
Without a plan, both the landowner and the tenant are at risk. The landowner risks having the pasture become overgrazed, resulting in future weed problems, reduced production, and lowered value. The tenant risks poor performance or livestock health due to less forage and lower quality feed. This can lead to higher supplemental feed costs or being forced to sell the cattle.
Before it becomes an issue, the landlord and tenant should discuss who decides when drought has lowered pasture production enough to remove the cattle and when the rent should be adjusted due to changes. It's best to design the lease so the landowner and tenant share in the opportunity and risk associated with drought by adding an appropriate escape clause. In the lease be sure to list the length of the grazing period and stocking rates, adjusting the stocking levels for increased cow size if necessary.
Putting all this in writing can help avoid any misunderstandings later.
Extension Forage Specialist