For over 100 years, University of Minnesota Extension has brought educational programing to greater Minnesota. The success of Extension’s educational programing – both in the past and present – is heavily dependent upon understanding the needs of the people of Minnesota. To understand what Minnesotans need, the University must maintain continuous and open dialog with Minnesota residents. Surveys are one tool Extension uses to foster this communication.
Sometimes Extension has to address difficult topics that require gathering sensitive information. The annual Fillmore and Houston County agricultural land rent surveys are an example of Extension doing just that. The land rent survey asks respondents to provide financial information that many see as being too personal. While I do not disagree that this information is very personal, I do want to stress how important this information is to helping our office educate our local populations.
There are many variables that must be considered when negotiating land rent prices. People often struggle on where to even begin these challenging conversations. The values produced from the land rent survey results – both the average and the range – can be that starting point. Negotiating parties often prefer to use these values because they come from an unbiased third party, the University of Minnesota Extension.
In addition, our area has many landowners who are now two or three generations removed from the farm. These landowners do not always understand things such as operating loans, crop budgets and seasonality of production. The land rent survey results give me a tool to help teach these individuals about the realities of agricultural production. Remember, Extension does not favor either side of these negotiations. Rather our intent is to foster positive communication between tenants and landowners. This in turn will hopefully lead to healthier relationships and long-term stability in our agricultural communities.
This year’s land rent survey is currently out for response. If you do not receive a paper copy in the mail and wish to respond to the survey you may find the survey online at https://z.umn.edu/30mx. University of Minnesota Extension greatly appreciates the contributions of all who reply.