At the farmer in Ohio, whether are you producing meat, eggs, honey, commodity crops or plant-based foods, your financial security directly relates to the land that you operate your farm on and own. Farming can be an unpredictable profession, as a blight could take out a vegetable crop or a virus can spread quickly through livestock, leading to a terrible season and major losses.
Diversifying your sources of income can help protect you from bad seasons impacting your financial solvency. Many farmers may feel tempted to sell the mineral rights to their property. However, before you sign a contract, it is likely in your best interest to review the terms with a lawyer and make sure that you have adequate environmental protections and restrictions in place.
Mineral rights or oil and gas leases often involved severing the surface of properties from the mineral rights for the properties. That way, you retain the right to use the land as you see fit, while the company that buys the mineral rights can potentially profit as well from assets you can’t even access.
At first glance, that may seem like an ideal scenario because you don’t want to lose the rights to your property. Unfortunately, it also means that the company buying the mineral rights has literally no interest in protecting the surface of the land.
Unless you are careful about the language in your agreement, they could roll heavy machinery over your fields, destroying the topsoil. They could contaminate your groundwater or do any number of extraction-related activities that damage your property and its value.
When considering a new oil and gas lease or negotiating terms for a renewal, especially as the farmer, consulting with an attorney and getting help with crafting terms that protect your interest in the property can be of the utmost importance.