DNR to Offer Cash Rent Option for Dryland Leases

Wheat harvest on a DNR-managed lease

Wheat harvest on a DNR-managed state trust land lease in eastern Washington.

With the 2015 harvest season coming to an end it’s time to start planning for 2016. As you do, consider whether you might be a good fit for a cash rent option.

First, some background. In 2013, DNR began offering a cash option to dryland agriculture lessees. Historically, this option was offered only on leases with small acreage or non-cereal grain crops. After much research, DNR has developed a formula that incorporates the 3-year average price of wheat at Portland and a 10-year production average (when available).

The 3-year average price is calculated using the USDA published average coast price of soft white, dark northern spring, club, hard red winter, and barley. Other commodities are obtained from USDA Washington State Agri-Facts.

To calculate the rent per acre, the USDA average price is then reduced by the off-coast price at the nearest elevator. The price is then multiplied by the 10-year farm production average and the cropshare percentage for the agronomic zone. The result is divided by the crop rotation for the lease.

Example of cash rent calculator used by DNR:

DNR cash rent calculator example

DNR cash rent calculator example

Benefits to the Lessee
The cash rent option provides a lessee with additional marketing options for the crop and — 100 percent of the crop can be insured. The cash rent also entitles the lessee to 100 percent of any farm program payments. In addition, the cash rent option provides lessees more freedom in choosing an elevator and storage of their crops.

If you are interested in learning more about the cash rent option contact your local DNR land manager.

By Ryan Cloud, DNR Southeast Region Land Manager
mailto: ryan.cloud@dnr.wa.gov 

Rangeland Conservation Programs Working for You

Does your rangeland look like this?

Rangeland invaded by annual grasses.

FIGURE 1: Rangeland invaded by annual grasses. Grant County. Photo: DNR.

Would you like it to look more like this?


Figure 2: Annual rangeland reseeded to Sherman big bluegrass through EQIP project. Whitman County

Perhaps you’ve heard this before, but the USDA Farm Bill has a program for that! Working with lessees, local Conservation Districts, and the USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), DNR has helped to facilitate some amazing projects to improve our State’s rangelands. Best of all, lessees are reaping the rewards: as animals have better gains, habitat is improved, and the producer may qualify for supplemental payments.

Now back to the images of rangeland and our questions. Altered fire regimes, historic grazing practices, and invasive plant encroachment, have converted much of Washington’s native rangeland to something resembling the parcel pictured in Figure 1 that has been invaded by annual grasses. Restoring this rangeland after it has been invaded by cheatgrass, medusahead, and bulbous bluegrass is an uphill, if not a seemingly insurmountable battle.

This is where a program like the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) can help. Conservation Districts and the NRCS provide technical support, financial assistance, and flexible conservation planning that can make projects like range reseeding successful.

Figure 2 demonstrates a successful EQIP enrollment in Whitman County. Here, our lessee’s dedication to excellent land stewardship and partnership with the local NRCS office culminated into a massive range restoration project. Hundreds of acres of rangeland invaded by annual grasses have been reseeded to Sherman big bluegrass. Excellent forage value, and vastly improved wildlife habitat are just some of the rewards of this reseeding effort.

Why not your lease or land? With many programs available, and the need for economically and ecologically productive rangelands so great, the opportunity to participate in these programs is hard to ignore.

Tips for ensuring a smooth enrollment process:

  • Talk with your local DNR land manager early and often. We are more than happy to help. An conversation early in the process can help ensure a smooth enrollment  in to the program.
  • Be familiar with your lease terms, expiration date, and project timelines. Frequently, certain lease terms must match project terms and understanding timelines is crucial for a successful enrollment.
  • Be sure your Conservation District or NRCS office knows that you are planning projects on State land. Often, land ownership can be an overlooked piece of the puzzle, leading to late notification of DNR land managers, thus limiting enrollment options.
  • Foster good relationships with your local Conservation District and NRCS office. Program sign-ups are almost always limited, so having good communication with your local conservation offices is essential to knowing what programs are available when.

For more information on conservation programs available in your area, you may contact:

Emma Barnett, Southeast Rangeland Manager; Phone: (509) 237-1571; emma.barnett@dnr.wa.gov

Kevin Guinn, State Rangeland Management Specialist; Phone: (509) 754-3023 ext. 1129
John Kouns, Area Rangeland Management Specialist; Phone (509) 659-1761 ext. 113

Find more information about EQIPS and other conservation programs in the 2014 Farm Bill

By Emma Barnett, DNR Land Manager

Explore Lease Opportunities on Washington’s State Trust Lands

DNR Lease Opportunity Notifications


Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has more than 1 million acres of productive, sustainably managed state-owned lands available to lease for dryland and irrigated crops, orchards, vineyards or grazing. Lease revenues help support public school construction statewide.

Now, there’s an easy way to:

  • Receive emails about upcoming lease opportunities
  • Find links to lease documents and maps for upcoming lease auctions
  • Find locations of state lands, available leases, and information about individual parcels and their current leases using the Lease Opportunity Viewer, a free, online interactive mapping tool

INTERESTED? Click here to get notifications of upcoming lease opportunities and auctions

(You can always view DNR agriculture lease information through our Lease Opportunity Viewer)