Earlier this month, USDA released new findings that shed some light on who exactly owns the 911 million acres of farmland in the U.S. (excluding Alaska and Hawaii), and how they are managing that land now and in the future. USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and the Economic Research Service (ERS) jointly conducted the 2014 Tenure, Ownership, and Transition of Agricultural Land Survey (TOTAL) earlier last year.
The results of this survey provide updated statistics to a prior study conducted in 1999.
The updated survey provides a wealth of information on the 2 million landowners who manage or rent out our country’s farmland. Key findings include:
- 39 percent of all U.S. farmland is rented or leased
- 80 percent of all rented farmland is owned by non-farming landlords
- Rented farmland is valued at $1.1 trillion in total
- 91.5 million acres of farmland (or about 10 percent) are slated for ownership transfer in next 5 years
- only 21 million of these acres are expected to be sold to a non-relative.
In 1999, NASS (USDA’s data collection agency) undertook the Agricultural Economics and Land Ownership Survey (AELOS), which for the first time, surveyed the owners of our nation’s farmland to better understand how they were managing their land.
The TOTAL survey was conducted in 2014, over 15 years after the AELOS survey, and provides updated information on land ownership income, expenses, debt, assets, and demographic/other landlord characteristics, as well as additional survey questions that address current farm issues. TOTAL is representative of all agricultural land, held by both operating and non-operating landlords, in the contiguous 48 states.