CATCH THE BUZZ – Who Owns The Land?

Who Owns The Land BUZZ

By Ben Potter

Social Media and Innovation Editor


USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) has released survey results from the 2014 Tenure, Ownership, and Transition of Agricultural Land (TOTAL). The survey found rented acres total 353.8 million acres – and 80% of that is owned by non-farmers.

A total of 911 million acres are farmed in the U.S. (not counting Alaska and Hawaii), which means rented ground represents nearly 39% of all U.S. farmland. Of the 911 million acres, about 91.5 million are expected to transfer ownership in the next five years.

Here’s how that 91.5 million acres is expected to change hands, according to the survey:

  • 9 million acres kept by landlords or put into trusts
  • 21 million acres sold to a non-relative
  • 26 million acres sold or gifted to a relative

“Farmland has always been a valuable resource, but what we see in most recent TOTAL results is the emergence of farmland as a future investment,” says Joseph T. Reilly, NASS administrator. “More families are creating trust ownerships to make sure land remains in their family for farming or as an investment.”

The survey also analyzes demographic information for the 1.4 million non-farming principal landlords. The average age is 66.5, which is eight years older than the average farmer (58.3) according to recent Census data. Only 18% of principal landlords are younger than 55 years old.

TOTAL is the only NASS survey that collects agricultural landlord data. Access to land is one of farming’s biggest challenges, says Mary Bohman, ERS administrator.

“TOTAL gives us a chance to demonstrate the extent of the land access issue and provide realistic projections of future availability for purchase or for rent,” she says.

To review the complete survey, including state-by-state results, visit