Now is a Good Time to Review Your Lease

DNR-managed trust land in agricultureWith 2015 well underway and irrigation season upon us in many areas, it’s time to review your agriculture lease. In particular, take a look at Section 2.01 Permitted Use to refresh your memory on the allowed uses to ensure that you maintain lease compliance. Section 2.01 spells out exactly what type of use may occur under the lease agreement. For example, if an irrigated agriculture lease states the following:

2.01 Permitted Use. For this lease, the following use(s) and no other use(s) is/are permitted:

PERMITTED USE ACRES AUTHORIZED CROPS
Irrigated Agriculture 500 Potatoes, Corn, Peas, Timothy, Alfalfa,
Conservation 140 Wildlife Habitat

Crop type and rotations are agreed upon before the signing of the lease. The lessee can grow only the crops listed under the column “Authorized Crops.” DNR calculates the annual rent based upon the fair market value of the crops being grown on the lease. In cases where an unauthorized crop is planted, the unit land manager must recalculate the lease rent and, possibly, collect additional funds from the lessee to make the Trust (which receives the revenue) whole. Lessees who want to plant crops not authorized in their lease agreement must obtain advance written authorization from DNR.

Another item to note: grazing is not listed as a “Permitted Use” so livestock cannot graze the 140 acres of wildlife habitat, or aftermath graze the crops grown on the 500 acres of irrigated agriculture. Grazing of wildlife habitat is non-negotiable; however, the lessee may request authorization in advance to aftermath graze the irrigated acres. If the unit land manager determines that there will not be adverse impacts from removing the crop residue, DNR will issue a letter authorizing the lessee to allow aftermath grazing. The letter will also spell any additional rent due based on the number of animal units the department allows to graze.

As a lessee, it’s always a good idea to review your agriculture leases on annually to re-familiarize yourself with the requirements of each section. Doing so may help avoid problems and expenses down the road. As always, your DNR unit land manager is available to answer your questions.

By Tim Kopf, Washington DNR, Southeast Region Unit Land Manager, Southeast Region Office: 509-925-8510 and Northeast Region Office: 509-684-7474; tim.kopf@dnr.wa.gov