It’s no secret: farmers need land to farm, and lately they are having an increasingly difficult time obtaining it. Today, nearly half of all farmland is rented and many farmers are forced to cobble together plots of land by contracting with multiple landlords in multiple locations. Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) published a report, U.S. Farmland Ownership, Tenure, and Transfer, which sheds some light around the major barriers to land access faced by farmers, particularly beginning farmers, and also explores channels through which farming and non-farming landlords may consider transferring their lands.

This timely report analyzes trends in U.S. farmland ownership and land tenure drawn from USDA’s 2014 Tenure, Ownership, and Transition of Agricultural Land (TOTAL) survey. For NSAC’s analysis of the TOTAL survey results, see our previous blog post.

The ERS report can be generally divided into three major areas of emphasis:
  1. Historic and current trends in land tenure
  2. Patterns in landlords’ farmland decision-making, and
  3. Land-owner and tenant dynamics.
Historic and current trends in land tenure
Access to land is one of the most important challenges facing the next generation of farmers. ERS’ report analyzes the agricultural economy’s current state of land tenure and turnover, including the demographics of ownership, how agricultural lands are being used by owners (i.e. farming or renting), and what – if any – owners’ long-term plans are related to their land and eventual land transfer.

Read more at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition