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How Much Should You Pay to Lease Pasture?

By   /  February 2, 2015  /  8 Comments

The most difficult part of pasture leasing may be figuring out a rate that works for both parties. We can’t make it a breeze, but with this series of articles, we’ll give you some tools so you’ll have an idea where to start.

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The reason it’s hard to figure out what a pasture lease is worth is there are so many factors
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About the author

Publisher, Editor and Author

Kathy worked with the Bureau of Land Management for 12 years before founding Livestock for Landscapes in 2004. Her twelve years at the agency allowed her to pursue her goal of helping communities find ways to live profitably AND sustainably in their environment. She has been researching and working with livestock as a land management tool for over a decade. When she's not helping farmers, ranchers and land managers on-site, she writes articles, and books, and edits videos to help others turn their livestock into landscape managers.


  1. Brett says:

    In Iowa, a good source of both historical rates and formulas for pasture rent, is Iowa State Extension.

  2. Mark says:


    I don’t understand the maps, example Oregon 2000 $23.0 Pasture Cash ; 2010 $630 Pasture Value, 1.3%. How do these two relate?

    • Kathy Voth says:

      Hi Mark,

      The first map shows you what an average pasture rental rate per acre (for the grazing season) was in 2010. That’s helpful because it gives you a kind of starting rate for what things might cost. The second map shows you the average value of an acre of pasture if you own it. That’s valuable because sometimes landowners are looking for a percent rate of return on the land they own, and that adjusts their view of how much rent they would like to charge. We’ve got an article describing more ways to figure pasture rental rates on Tuesday (February 10).

  3. Karen Severn says:

    Are these rents monthly amounts? Thanks.

  4. Jess Jackson Jr. Grazing Specialist NRCS Iowa says:

    Another complicating factor is to sort out “introduced pasture” from native rangelands. They are very different in how we should manage them and thus worth different rental rates. I get asked this question a great deal Kathy so thanks for tackling it in the logical and tactful way the you always do.

  5. Gene Schriefer says:

    If you know what the average production is in AUM or tons of a pasture, another method is local hay value minus harvest costs minus cost of livestock transportation and frequency of checking on livestock. This sets a maximum one might pay.

    The USDA data is what the average local market is (what is actually being paid), not what the value of pasture is. Our county average is $40/acre, the range in value is $10 to over $100.

    • Kathy Voth says:

      Both excellent points Gene. The first part (the math) is one of the things I’m hoping to cover in upcoming articles including some kind of spreadsheet to help with the math. If you’ve got something like that we can draw on, let me know. 🙂

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