Publications: Agricultural Leases/Contracts


Force Majeure and Other Contractual Defenses during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Scout Snowden, Research Fellow, National Agricultural Law Center
Rusty W. Rumley Senior Staff Attorney, National Agricultural Law Center
Elizabeth Rumley Senior Staff Attorney, National Agricultural Law Center

A contract, in short, is a legally binding promise. As part of that promise, each party agrees to do or pay for something in return for something else. Breaking that promise imposes legal consequences. However, in certain circumstances, parties to contracts may be able to avoid those obligations when unexpected events happen that make performance extremely difficult or impossible.  Only major, unforeseen events may trigger the possible defenses to a breach of contract that may release a party from future obligations without legal consequence. This factsheet is meant to provide a broad overview of these types of potential defenses, especially in light of the COVID-19 public health emergency..  Download this factsheet. Posted 5/13/20


Ranchers’ Agricultural Leasing Handbook: Grazing, Hunting, & Livestock Leases

Lashmet, et al., Texas A&M, Oklahoma State University and the National Agricultural Law Center

This handbook was created through a Southern Risk Management Education grant to address common leasing issues that landowners, ranchers, and attorneys in Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas face.  This project was a collaborative effort between Texas A&M, Oklahoma State University, and the National Agricultural Law Center.  The book explains the reasoning behind requiring a written lease, determining the fair market rental value for a piece of property, ways to address liability concerns, checklists of things to consider when drafting a lease, and finally sample hunting, livestock and grazing lease examples.  Download this book. Posted 6/28/16, most recently updated 9/15/23. 

Agricultural Contracting

Rusty W. Rumley Staff Attorney National Agricultural Law Center

Contracts are part of everyday life, but are especially important to individuals who are engaged in business. While contracts are entered into and fulfilled every day, the contracts that we often think about are those that are not completed and the consequences that flow from it. This factsheet address some of the basics of the contracting process, what can be done if a contract has been breached, and tips to consider before entering into a contract.    Download this article. Posted September 28, 2012.

Bull Leasing Contracts

Rusty W. Rumley Staff Attorney National Agricultural Law Center

Leasing, at the fundamental level, is the temporary exchange of goods or real property for some form of compensation.  One relatively new use for lease agreements is the renting of bulls during the breeding season.  This provides ranchers with the opportunity to introduce better genetics into their herds without the capital overlay of purchasing a bull.  Leasing is an alternative to purchasing a bull; however there are issues that must be addressed before entering into such a lease.  This factsheet address some of the health and performance concerns that exist as well as the liability issues that may arise during the lease and what actions can be taken to limit these risks.         Download this article. Posted March 16, 2011.

Written Sugarcane Leases: Protecting the Interests of the Farmer and Landowner

Rusty W. Rumley Staff Attorney
Benjamin L. Thomas Graduate Assistant, National Agricultural Law Center

Although oral agricultural leases are still prevalent throughout the country, problems can and do arise when these leases need to last longer than one year.  Sugarcane leases in particular are vulnerable to the problems associated with oral leases due to their extended length and the significant capital investment that must be made in order to grow and harvest the crop.  This factsheet touches on some of the potential problems that can arise under oral leases and what steps can be taken to address them if a written contract is adopted.         Download this article. Posted March 16, 2011.

Agricultural Contracts and the Leasing of Land – PowerPoint Presentation

Rusty Rumley Staff Attorney National Agricultural Law Center

This presentation was given on March 10, 2009 to the Arkansas Women in Agriculture Annual Conference and introduces contracts and leases from a basic law perspective, as well as an agriculture-specific viewpoint, with special attention given to issues that should be considered when drafting a contract or lease to prevent future problems.  Download this presentation. Posted: May 13, 2009