Producers can lease land from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources
By Diego Flammini
An Iowa government program is helping new farmers access the land they need to raise a crop.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources’s (DNR) Lease to Beginning Farmer program allows producers to lease farmland owned by the DNR.
Producers are vetted by multiple agencies and must meet certain requirements to be eligible for the program, said Luke Kramme, land manager for the DNR.
“We partner with the Iowa Finance Authority (and the Iowa Agricultural Development Division) to certify and approve interested applicants to become beginning farmers,” Kramme told Farms.com. “There’s a list of qualifications that (the applicants) have to meet.
“Once the Iowa Finance Authority sends those applications to us, we give those approved farmers priority when we offer these leases.”
Interested farmers must be a permanent resident of Iowa, have the appropriate knowledge and equipment to farm, and must have a net worth lower than US$680,590. There is no age requirement for the lease.
The DNR has about 24,000 acres available for lease in 2020, and those acres can only be used for cash crop production.
Lease lengths and terms vary by location, and farmers use their harvest revenue to pay their lease fees and keep the rest.
The lease program also has environmental benefits.
DNR-owned land is managed for wildlife habitat, and a farmer’s crops can help provide food, Kramme said.
“We usually have a farmer leave about 10 per cent of the crop in the ground so that it gives animals some food and shelter,” he said.
Interested producers have until Dec. 1 to apply for the program.