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Leases and Farm Tenure

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This page contains narratives, presentations, and templates related to drafting of written agreements for use of land in farming. The emphasis of this page is on various types of lease templates for use of land, as well as rights of farm tenants and lessees, and their landlords. Agreements for transfer of ownership appear under Asset Transfer Agreements.


Farm Tenancy: Issues to Address Before Contracting to Sell Farm Land. This short piece identifies several issues to resolve before contracting to sell farm land with an agricultural tenancy, including apportionment of rent and ownership of standing crops.

Word of Mouth: The Verbal Farm Tenancy in North Carolina. This narrative provides an overview of the common and statutory law concerning unwritten yet permissive rental arrangements on farmland.

Farm Leases: Farm Lease Considerations for Farmer and LandownerThis narrative reviews the farm lease tenure relationship from the landowner’s side and from the farmer’s side, with perspectives each should consider when reaching an agreement for the use of farmland.


Agricultural Tenancy and Farm Leases. This presentation covers the basics of farm lease issues to consider in drafting, as well as North Carolina laws on agricultural tenancies.

Hunting Leases. This presentation provides an overview of hunting lease issues as well as general liability for landowners.


[General Disclaimer: These documents have been prepared for general information purposes only and is intended to provide a starting point for Tenants as they develop Agreements for use in their business, or Landowners as they consider leasing land for farming. These templates should serve as a platform for discussion between Tenant and landowner and reviewed by counsel serving both. Persons relying on this template without review by their counsel do so entirely at their own risk. Each template contains a watermark, and should therefore be copied to a new document for use.]

Generic Crop (Field) Lease. This template is a straightforward crop lease relying on FSA field identification. (Note for 3+ year leases, parties should execute and record a Lease Memorandum [template below].

Generic Farm Lease (non-conventional)This template is a simple lease for use in farm situations, or as simple crop lease. Note this lease is for non-conventional production, where use of inputs not approved by the USDA National Organics Program are prohibited (NOP organic certification not required). This template is more appropriate for smaller-scale, non-chemical operations.

Whole Farmstead Lease (including residential structure)This lease template is for use when leasing a ‘whole farmstead’ that includes a residence. It has been modified to cover basic issues required by North Carolina residential tenancy laws.

Silvopasture LeaseThis lease template is for rental situations where silviculture is involved, concerning preservation and maintenance of forested areas.

Hunting Lease. This template is basically a grab bag of language that can be incorporated into a hunting lease for an individual or a hunting club.

Simple Equipment Lease (Small Farm)

Lease Memorandum Template (Multi Parcel)This is a template for a Memorandum of Lease listing multiple parcels owned by a landowner to be farmed by one producer entity, and recorded with the county register of deeds. Under North Carolina law, a lease in excess of three (3) years must be recorded to protect the leasehold on land transferred to a new owner (e.g., sold, gifted, or inherited).

Sample Letter Terminating a Verbal Farm Tenancy. This template letter may be used to advise a farm tenant, who is farming the land on an oral agreement (without a written lease), that their tenancy will end at the end of the year. Under North Carolina law (N.C.G.S. §42-14) an annual tenancy must be terminated no less than thirty (30) days prior to the end of the tenancy. By law in North Carolina, agricultural tenancies run from January 1 to January 1, so notice must be received by the tenant no later than November 30. HOWEVER, in certain counties, N.C.G.S. §42-23, mandates that verbal agricultural tenancies run from December 1 to December 1 to December 1, so notice must be received by the tenant no later than October 31. Such is applicable to the following counties:  Alamance, Anson, Ashe, Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gaston, Greene, Hoke, Jones, Lenoir, Lincoln, Montgomery, Onslow, Pender, Person, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Wayne and Yadkin. The attached template can be modified depending on which county the parcel is located.


Content loaded to Agricultural and Natural Resource Law portal, including narratives, workbooks and presentations, is supported by The North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission (TTFC) (Grant award 2019-001-16), titled “An Heirs Guide to Farmland”).