Notice of termination of a farm lease must be completed by September 1

submitted by Sara Berges, Allamakee SWCD

Now is a good time to think about your farm lease for next year.  According to Iowa law, if you want to terminate your rental agreement or make changes in your current lease terms, you must properly serve a notice of termination by September 1. This applies to both cash and crop-share leases, but not custom farming contracts.  Prior to 2013, parcels under 40 acres were exempted from requiring termination notice.  Now, a written notice of termination is required on all tracts of rented farmland, regardless of size.

Farm leases automatically continue as written from year to year unless either party gives a notice of termination.  Even an oral lease is automatically renewed if it is not properly terminated.

Oral leases are only valid for one year at a time in Iowa.  In order to have a longer contract, it must be in writing.  A form titled “Notice of Termination of Farm Tenancy” is available from the Iowa State University Ag Decision Maker website as AgDM C2-19 and can be found online at  A party terminating a lease by issuing a termination notice must set the termination date as March 1. The lease year runs from March 1 to the last day of February of the following year. 

There are three methods to serve notice. The first method is to deliver the notice with the acceptance of service being signed by the recipient (tenant or successor of the tenant).  The second method is to publish notice.  The third, and most common, method is to mail notice by certified mail before September 1. This method is considered complete when the notice is placed in the mail with proper postage and the last known address of the party being served. The sender should retain the certified mailing receipt as proof.

An exception to the auto-renewal statute is a written agreement to terminate on a specified date without notice.  A lease providing for a specific termination date, even stating that the parties wish to terminate on the stated date and waive the right to statutory notice, will still be subject to the auto-renewal provisions.  A written agreement to terminate must be separate from the actual lease.

If you plan to change your lease terms or work with a new renter, now is a great time to consider adding conservation provisions to your farm lease. For more information, contact Sara Berges at the Allamakee SWCD by calling 563-568-2246 ext. 3, stop by the office at 635 9th St NW in Waukon, or email