USDA later this month will send surveys to owners of agricultural land, planning to build on information collected in the most recent Census of Agriculture, the agency said Tuesday.
While more than half of all U.S. farmland is owned by farmers, more than 350 million acres are rented or leased, said Shiela Corley, Environmental and Economics Survey Section Head, National Agricultural Statistics Service, in a recent agency blog.
Corley says while USDA collects data to determine accurate estimates for farmland values, it's important to know land ownership income, debt, asset, demographic and other landlord characteristics for fair farmland rental negotiations.
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To collect the information, USDA plans to mail the new survey, "Tenure, Ownership, and Transition of Agricultural Land," at the end of December. It is a reinstatement of the previously collected Agricultural Economics and Land Ownership Survey, according to a September, 2014, Federal Register notice.
Once surveys are mailed, the National Agricultural Statistics Service will follow-up by phone with landlords who did not respond by mail. In some special cases, NASS will make personal visits to the participants’ operations, USDA said.
In addition, there will be two versions of the survey. One will focus on farm landowners and the other on the farm operators.
The farm operator survey will target farms and ranches in the contiguous U.S. that sold at least $1,000 in ag products, representative of the farm operator population, USDA said.
The landlord version is targeted to owners who rent out farm land, but do not farm. The sample will be drawn from the NASS June Area Frame segments, USDA said.
Corley said results of the survey will be published in August, 2015, providing a "much-needed negotiation tool" to farmers and ranchers across the United States who rent or lease the land they operate.
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"As someone who grew up on farm in Kentucky, this data is important to our family as we make decision on rental agreements and the future of our family farm," Corley said.
The survey is also expected to be an important tool for landowners themselves, as well as a baseline for loan and grant policies, USDA said.
Academia, the farming industry, and others area also expected to use the resulting data, which may inform planning, policymaking, research, and market analysis.