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Evaluating Your Farming Needs: Determining Whether To Own Or Lease Equipment

Apr 19

In today's fast-paced agricultural industry, farmers are faced with many important decisions. One of the most crucial choices to make is whether it's more beneficial to own or lease farming equipment.

As a farmer, you might be wondering how to determine which option best suits your needs and budget. In this article, we'll explore the key factors you should consider when evaluating your farming needs and deciding between purchasing and leasing equipment for your operation. As you weigh the pros and cons of each option, it's essential to take into account not only the financial aspects but also how these choices impact your farm's overall efficiency and flexibility.

We understand that every farm is unique, so there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer here – but by considering various factors like cash flow, tax implications, and maintenance responsibilities, you'll be better equipped to make an informed decision that supports your long-term success in agriculture.

Assessing Financial Considerations

To lease or not to lease, that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the pocketbook to suffer the slings and arrows of costly equipment ownership, or to take arms against a sea of financial burdens by leasing instead?

The decision between owning and leasing farm equipment can be quite challenging for farmers as both options come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Assessing your financial considerations should be at the forefront when deciding whether to purchase or lease farming machinery. Buying often requires significant upfront capital but offers long-term cost savings, increased equity, and potential tax benefits.

On the other hand, leasing typically has lower initial costs and provides flexibility in terms of upgrading equipment frequently while keeping up with technological advancements. Ultimately, it's essential to carefully evaluate your cash flow situation alongside your operational needs before making this pivotal choice for your business' future success.

Examining Tax Implications

Let's discuss the tax benefits of leasing versus ownership when it comes to farming equipment. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

Tax Benefits Of Leasing

Who doesn't love a good tax break? When you lease farming equipment, there's often an opportunity to benefit from various tax incentives. For instance, leasing expenses can generally be deducted as operating costs on your income tax returns, which could result in some significant savings for your farm business.

Additionally, certain leases may qualify for specialized tax breaks or programs  designed specifically for agricultural businesses, making it even more appealing to opt for leasing over purchasing outright. So, before making any hasty decisions regarding your farm equipment needs, make sure to do some research and consult with a trusted financial advisor about the potential tax benefits of leasing!

Tax Benefits Of Ownership

On the other hand, owning farm equipment has its fair share of tax benefits as well. When you purchase a piece of machinery outright, you're typically able to claim depreciation deductions over time for that asset, helping offset some of the initial cost.

Plus, there's also the possibility of taking advantage of Section 179 expensing, which allows eligible businesses to write off all or part of an asset's cost in the year it's placed into service. This can lead to substantial tax savings and may even tip the scales in favor of ownership when comparing lease versus buy scenarios. It's crucial to weigh both sides carefully and consider your own farm operation's unique financial situation before settling on a course of action.

Understanding Maintenance Responsibilities

Having explored the tax implications of owning or leasing farm equipment, it is crucial to also consider the maintenance responsibilities associated with each option. A thorough understanding of these obligations will help you make a more informed decision on whether to purchase or lease your farming machinery.

When weighing the pros and cons of ownership versus leasing, keep in mind the following key aspects regarding maintenance:

  1.         Ownership: When you own farm equipment outright, you are responsible for all maintenance and repair costs. This means that any servicing, replacement parts, or repairs required throughout its lifespan will need to be covered by you. Although this can lead to potentially high expenses, proper care and preventative measures can extend the life of your equipment and reduce long-term costs.
  2.         Leasing: In most cases when leasing machinery, routine maintenance tasks are performed by the leasing company as part of the agreement. However, if there are additional repairs needed due to misuse or negligence on your part, those extra costs may fall on you depending on the terms of your contract.
  3.         Warranty Coverage: Both purchased and leased equipment often come with some form of warranty coverage provided by manufacturers. Ensure that you thoroughly understand what's covered under warranties for both options as well as how long they last.

As we've seen, evaluating one's farming needs involves several factors beyond merely comparing upfront costs between owning and leasing equipment. By taking into account tax implications, maintenance responsibilities, and other related concerns such as warranty coverage, a farmer can confidently decide which path best aligns with their operational goals and financial situation.

Evaluating Flexibility And Efficiency

As the saying goes, 'Don't put all your eggs in one basket.' This adage especially rings true when it comes to evaluating flexibility and efficiency in relation to owning or leasing farming equipment.

In today's fast-paced agricultural industry, being able to quickly adapt to changes is essential for success. Owning equipment might give you complete control over its use but may also tie up valuable capital that could be invested elsewhere. On the other hand, leasing provides an opportunity to access a range of machinery without having to worry about upfront costs, maintenance expenses, or depreciation.

It's crucial, therefore, to weigh the pros and cons of each option based on your specific situation – assessing factors like seasonal requirements, cash flow management, tax implications, and long-term growth objectives. By doing so, you'll ensure that both flexibility and efficiency are optimized within your operations while keeping risk exposure at bay.

Making An Informed Decision

Making an informed decision between owning and leasing farm equipment requires careful consideration of various factors. It's essential to weigh the pros and cons of each option while keeping in mind your unique farming needs, financial situation, and long-term goals.

To help you make the best choice for your situation, consider the following four aspects:

  1.         Costs: Compare both the upfront costs and ongoing expenses associated with owning versus leasing equipment. Owning machinery typically involves a significant initial investment but could lead to potential savings over time if properly maintained. In contrast, leasing often has lower upfront costs but may result in higher overall expenditure due to regular lease payments.
  2.         Flexibility: Leasing allows you to access up-to-date technology and change equipment more frequently as your needs evolve or new innovations become available. On the other hand, owning means you can use the equipment as desired without worrying about contractual restrictions or penalties for excessive usage.
  3.         Maintenance: When you own farm equipment, responsibility for maintenance falls on you – this includes bearing repair costs and ensuring proper upkeep is performed regularly. With leased machinery, maintenance responsibilities are typically shared with or covered by the leasing company.
  4.         Tax implications: Tax laws vary depending on location; therefore, it's crucial to research any possible deductions or benefits related to purchasing or leasing farm equipment in your area.

Taking all these factors into account will provide valuable insights that contribute significantly towards making a well-informed decision tailored specifically for your individual circumstances. Remember that there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to choosing between ownership and leasing – what works best for one farmer might not be suitable for another based on their distinct set of requirements and objectives.

By thoroughly evaluating each option against relevant criteria such as cost efficiency, flexibility, maintenance considerations, and tax implications specific to your region, you'll be better positioned to select the most appropriate solution aligned with your farming business' growth strategy and long-term success.


In conclusion, the decision to own or lease farming equipment is a complex one that requires careful consideration of financial aspects, tax implications, maintenance responsibilities, and flexibility. As a farmer, it's essential for you to weigh these factors against your unique needs and circumstances. Ultimately, striking the right balance between owning and leasing can be instrumental in maximizing efficiency and productivity on your farm. By examining all angles carefully, you'll make an informed choice that best supports your long-term goals.

Feel free to read this blog post from Farm Plus Financial to get more ideas about this topic: