Family Farms: USDA Survey Indicates Farmland Staying in Families

September 28, 2015

China is buying up U.S. farmland! Corporate farms are taking over America! Like Chicken Little, some media sources would have us believe the sky is falling.

The truth is that families are holding on tight to their farms and farmland.

The results of a recent USDA survey, the Tenure, Ownership, and Transition of Agricultural Land (TOTAL Survey), found that 10 percent of the 911 million farmland acres in the 48 contiguous states, or about 91.5 million acres, are slated for ownership transfer in the next five years. This figure does not include farmland that is currently in,or expected to be put into, wills.

According to the survey, landlords expect to keep or put nearly 48 percent of these acres in trusts. Only 21 million acres of ag land are expected to be sold to a non-relative, while 26 million acres are expected to be sold to a relative or given as a gift.

“From this survey, it appears that more landowners intend to make sure that farmland remains in their family for farming or as an investment,” said Greg Guse, Paulsen executive vice president and industry analyst.

“This study contradicts the idea that more and more farmland is being purchased by non-ag entities. The farm family continues to influence ownership of the land.”

In addition, the TOTAL Survey reveals the top five states in rent received for agricultural land are:

  1. Illinois, $3.8 billion
  2. Iowa, $3.7 billion
  3. Nebraska, $2.4 billion
  4. Minnesota, $2.0 billion
  5. Texas, $2.0 billion

The 2014 TOTAL Survey is part of the Census of Agriculture program.  For more information, go to:

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