Governor signs Brown measure helping farmers with DNR land leases

New law will give farmers and ranchers a heads-up before DNR can terminate a lease early

Today the governor signed a measure sponsored by Sen. Sharon Brown aimed at providing certainty to ranchers, farmers and others who lease lands from the state Department of Natural Resources.

“The land our farmers and ranchers lease from DNR is critical to their ability to operate. So when DNR terminated the leases of some local wheat farmers early, and with little notice, it left many feeling distraught and caught off guard,” explained Brown, R-Kennewick. “This new law will help provide fairness for members of our agricultural community facing early termination of vital land leases.”

Senate Bill 5051, which passed unanimously in the Senate and the House of Representatives, will require DNR to provide at least 180 days’ written notice and include documentation regarding the termination in any early-termination provision included in an agricultural or grazing state-land lease. It also requires DNR to provide the lessee with written documentation showing that leased land is part of plan for better use, land exchange or sale.

“These hard working farmers did nothing wrong, they correctly followed the provisions in their lease with DNR,” said Brown. “They purchased equipment and supplies in anticipation of working that land and had the rug pulled out from under them.

“I’m glad we were able to find a solution going forward, in the form of this new law.”

The bill will go into effect 90 days after the adjournment of session.