Seventh generation farmer Andy Clay’s operation is very diversified. He grows corn, soybeans, wheat and turnips. He raises calves. His parents, co-owners of his farm, run a local feed store. And come hunting season, Clay essentially runs a hunter’s bed and breakfast on his land. A few years ago, Clay decided to dip his toe into the waters of outfitting, in which farmers rent out their land to hunters, providing them a place to stay, meals, hunting stands and grounds. Hunters bring their own tags and hunt for a predetermined amount of time, then walk away with whatever they shoot. Like most farmers, Clay looks for extra sources of revenue where he can. And in a time of uncertainty, like that of a global pandemic, extra sources of revenue become even more important.
After the flooding in 2019, farmers were once again hit hard this year by dropping corn prices, meat surpluses and increasing costs for equipment, seed and other necessities. As costs rise, farmers are seeing lower return on investment, forcing them to often seek alternative revenue streams. One option that has grown in popularity in the last five to 10 years overall, and during the pandemic specifically, is lease hunting. Farmers rent out portions of their property, sometimes for a few days, weeks or for whole years at a time as hunting land. The revenue generated from hunters can cover the land’s expenses, including taxes, and may even provide a little extra cash for landowners. Ed Griffin, a leasing agent for Base Camp Leasing, a broker that connects farmers looking to lease their land and hunters looking for places to hunt, said Base Camp has done nothing but grow during the pandemic. “Farmers are coming to us more and more for that revenue. So as prices go up for farm equipment, for seed, just for gas and milk, as the prices go up, they’ve got to find a different way of making an income,” he said. He estimated that of the more than 200 leases he has in Missouri, roughly 20% are first-timers this year. [full article]