Even though cash rent continues to creep northward, one thing is for sure, Illinois is not getting any bigger.
Thus, when a solid relationship between a tenant and landowner is established, it's important to keep things amicable. After harvest, a lot of farmers choose to express their gratitude during the Christmas season. However, what does a landlord really want? And, are things changing?
Nola Hector, a landowner near Pana, has rented her ground to a couple farmers over the years. The first one, who is now retired, would bring her a fruit basket every Christmas Eve.
Her new tenant, who's been farming the land since 2000, does things a little different. Even though he doesn't give her a "gift" per say, he plows her driveway each time it snows. For Hector, a single mom, it's tough to put a price on something like that.
"I know I can call him if I need anything, and he'll come over to help me out," she adds.
Terry Wolf, who farms in Homer, agrees a solid relationship shouldn't revolve around a Christmas gift. Instead, he says the best gift a farmer can give the tenant is information. "They are more interested on what's going on at the farm," he explains.
Thus, he provides tours, explanations of farming practices, yield data and, above all, he shows them their land is being cared for. "We do send Christmas cards," he notes. "But, I think the best thing you can do is just keep in touch with them throughout the entire year."
Neil Pistorius, a retired Decatur farmer, has been on both sides of the equation. When he was farming, Pistorius remembered giving one family a basket of pears each year. "They had kids and they absolutely loved those pears," he says.
For others, he wouldn't really send a gift, but would help out with a multitude of tasks around their home. "For some of them, they lived out in the country and I would help out with repair work around the property," he adds.
As a landlord, Pistorius says his tenant farmers make a charitable contribution in his name, something he appreciates immensely.