To start this column, I want to visit about a phone call that I had recently. The call wasn’t from the immediate area, so you won’t be able to figure out who called.
Some background information: The caller was a landlord who rented out several hundred acres of pasture. He worked with the tenant and established the grazing rate at 90 cow/calf pairs in this pasture. For each pair, he received $40 per month, or $200 for the five month typical grazing season for each pair.
During the phone call, we discussed that with the dryness of 2012, that either the grazing season be shortened, or that the stocking rate be adjusted. So, this landlord proceeded to tell me that he would be asking the tenant to stock that pasture with only 70 pairs for 2013 instead of 90 pairs.
But, then he proceeded to share that he’d be changing the asking price from $40 to $50 per pair. With the extra rent per pair for the grazing season, he was within $500 of getting the same rent as the year before. The tenant would have to accept most of the financial responsibility of changing the stocking rate.
I found this to be a bit insensitive on the landlord’s part. Everyone needs to understand that the drought of 2012 was historic and that all parties involved need to share the loss from that event. But I want to be clear, I am not being overly critical, because this is a free-market economy and with the supply and demand of that neighborhood for pasture, the stocking rate and charge for grazing may be very appropriate.
Here is the message that I am trying to get to: landlords and tenants need to visit prior to the start of the grazing season. The two parties need to visit about stocking rates, and the length of the grazing season. They need to be clear about weed control (if needed) and the pricing of the pasture.
I certainly hope that my concern over pastures for 2013 is not warranted. I hope it rains a lot this spring and there is no concern for pasture production. But there is a saying that goes something like: “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.” We do need to be ready in case the drought continues.
For more information or assistance, please contact Allan Vyhnalek, Extension Educator, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Extension in Platte County. Phone: 402-563-4901 or e-mail AVYHNALEK2@unl.edu