Bone-headed Beef Business Blunders Part 3: Contracts – Go Ahead, Write a Book

For the third and final confession in my Boneheaded Beef Business Blunders series, I want to cover land lease and custom grazing contracts. I got myself into some sticky situations in my early years of ranching, due to assuming too much. In the past my land lease contracts have fit on one printed page with big type. I wanted my potential partner to think that leasing their land to me would be easy and convenient. Most people would not use those words when handed a 10-page document to read and analyze. Unfortunately, quarrels ensued between myself and a past landowner because our contract was too vague. The landowner believed that it entitled him to certain things, and I saw nothing in the contract that bound me to any of those things. This one could have easily ended up in court. The days of the handshake deal are over, for better or worse. Your idea of common sense might be very different from that of your partner. Insist on written, signed agreements for everything. If you can’t get that, discuss things via e-mail or text message whenever possible. This gives you a record of exactly what was said. Save these transcripts of your conversations, even if you think nothing bad will ever happen. My landowner issues would have been more easily solved had I been able to produce proof of what we had verbally agreed to the prior year. It’s easy for people to forget or misinterpret what is said. The chances of a “he-said-she-said” situation going in your favor are low.

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