Who Owns U.S. Agricultural Land? – Modern Farmer

Who Owns U.S. Agricultural Land?

The USDA released a report today detailing foreign holdings of U.S. agricultural land as of December 2011, and it’s pretty fascinating stuff. “Foreign persons” are defined as individuals who are not citizens of the U.S., foreign businesses and governments that have their principal place of business in a foreign country and U.S. entities in which there is a significant foreign interest.

Below are some of the more eye-opening facts:

So, How Much Land is Foreign Held?

Foreign investors held an interest in 25.7 million acres of U.S. agricultural land (forest land and farmland) as of December 31, 2011. This is an increase of 1,490,781 acres from the December 31, 2010 report, and represents 2.0 percent of all privately held agricultural land in the United States.

Forest land accounted for 54 percent of all foreign held agricultural acreage, cropland for 19 percent, and pasture and other agricultural land for 27 percent.

Foreign persons have reported acreage holdings in all 50 States and Puerto Rico.

The state of Texas has the largest amount of foreign held U.S. agricultural land with 2,894,563 acres. This figure represents only 1.9 percent of privately owned agricultural land in Texas.

Maine has the second largest amount of foreign held agricultural acres with 2,877,965 and Washington has the third largest amount of foreign held agricultural land with 1,671,102 acres, which is 7.6 percent of its privately held agricultural land.

16 percent of Maine’s of Maine’s privately held agricultural land is held by foreign investors; this is approximately 11 percent of the reported foreign held agricultural land in the United States.

Hawaii has the second largest percentage of foreign held U.S. agricultural land, 158,887 acres, which is 8.8 percent of the privately held agricultural land in the state. Washington, Alabama and Florida follow.

Kansas, Washington and Wisconsin showed the biggest increases in foreign-held agricultural acres in 2011. The increases were primarily due to the execution of long-term leasehold interests by wind energy companies.

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Who Owns It?

Canadian investors own the most reported foreign held agricultural and non-agricultural land, with 28 percent, or 7,250,834 acres. Foreign persons from the Netherlands own 19 percent, Germany owns 7, the United Kingdom owns 6 and Portugal owns 5. Together, 9,511,437 acres or 36 percent of foreign-held acres are owned by individuals or entities from these countries.

What Do They Use it For?

Fifty-two percent of the land is timber or forest with cropland accounting for only 19 percent of the total acres. Foreign held pasture and other agricultural land totals 27 percent of all foreign interest holdings in the United States. Nonagriculture land (including homestead and roads commonly reported as part of the agricultural land or land that is idle now, but its last use in the past 5 years was agricultural) accounts for approximately 2 percent.

What Are the Trends?

Between 2007 and 2011, foreign landholdings in cropland and pasture land increased. During this time period, cropland increased from roughly 2,400,000 acres to 4,900,000 acres, and pastureland increased from approximately 4,000,000 acres to 5,900,000. These changes are mostly due to foreign-owned wind companies executing long-term leases on large numbers of acres; however, the acres actually utilized by said companies are very few due to the small footprint of the wind towers erected on the land.

Capital Press | Large farms dominate U.S. cropland

Published: September 10. 2013 4:50PM

Carol Dumas/Capital Press
Sugar beets are nearing harvest on this farm outside Jerome, Idaho, on Sept. 10. A new USDA report finds while more U.S. cropland is shifting to larger farms, the ag landscape is still dominated by family farms. Increasing financial risks and new technology, however, could undermine the family farm model in the future.
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U.S.cropland has been consolidating for the past three decades with cropland shifting to larger farms. Cganges in technology and farm organization have driven the increase to larger farms, as farm operates are able to manage more acres and are less constrained by financial risk. Despite the trend, U.S. cropland is still dominated by family farms.

While the median farm size in the U.S. has changed little over the last three decades – due to the growing number of very small and very large farms – the number of mid-sized farms has declined and cropland acreage has moved toward much larger farms

In the early 1980s, most cropland was operated by farms with less than 600 acres. Today most cropland is on farms with at least 1,100 acres, with many five and 10 times that size.

In 2011, 1,140 U.S. farms had at least 10,000 acres of cropland, up from 409 in 2001, according to a report from USDA’s Economic Research Service released this week.

The report, Farm Size and the Organization of U.S. Cropland, delves into the changing ag landscape and the factors behind the trend to larger farms.

In 2011, 1.68 million farms had cropland, and the average size was 234 acres using a simple mean calculation of cropland divided by numbers of farms. That calculation, however, masks structural changes in the farm sector and the substantial and widespread acreage shift to much larger farms, authors of the report stated.

Instead of a mean calculation, the authors introduced a measure of midpoint acreage in which half of all cropland acres are on farms with more cropland than the midpoint and half are on farms with less.

They found the midpoint acreage for U.S. cropland nearly doubled between 1982 and 2007, from 589 acres to 1,105 acres, increasing in 45 states and more than doubling in 16 states. The largest increases occurred in a contiguous group of 12 Corn Belt and Northern Plains states.

In that same period, midpoint acreages more than doubled in corn, cotton, rice, soybeans, and wheat and increased an average of 107 percent in 35 of 39 fruit and vegetable crops.

“The evidence is consistent. Cropland shifted to larger farms in most states and for most crops. The increases were persistent over time, and they were substantial,” the authors stated.

Changes in technology and in farm organization that enable farm households to operate more cropland today than they could in the recent or distant past are two of the many factors contributing to cropland consolidation, the authors stated.

Technology is allowing individual farmers to operate and manage more acres. Labor-saving innovations – from bigger and faster equipment and information technology to herbicides, seed genetics and changing tillage techniques – have substantially reduced labor in agriculture and facilitated a shift to larger crop farms.

Greater specialization – beginning with a separation of livestock farming from crop farming in the latter part of the 20th century – has allowed full-time crop farmers to devote more time to crop production and manage more cropland.

At the same time, the number of production and marketing contracts to govern the sale of products has increased, which can reduce price and marketing risks. Farmers have also limited their risk by leasing equipment and hiring custom services and are less constrained by the inherent risks of major equipment purchases.

Despite the shift to larger farms and more consolidation of cropland, family farms continue to dominate U.S. crop production, accounting for 96 percent of farms and 87 percent of production value, the authors stated.

While data from the 2012 census of agriculture will provide more information on trends, data on midpoint farm size from a 2011 USDA survey shows no increase over the 2007 estimate drawn from the census, suggesting a slowdown rather than an acceleration in consolidation, the authors stated.

Farm Size and the Organization of U.S. Crop Farming, by


Is farmland the next bubble? – The Globe and Mail

These are stories Report on Business is following Wednesday, Sept. 11., 2013.

Is farmland the next bubble?
A new report from BMO Nesbitt Burns looks at the stunning rise in the value of Canadian and U.S. farmland amid concerns that prices may be in bubble territory.

BMO’s Aaron Goertzen, however, concludes there won’t be a meltdown similar to the one in the 1980s.

“Farmland prices in Canada and the United States have risen explosively since the early 1990s, with dirt on both sides of the 49 parallel up triple digits even after adjusting for inflation,” Mr. Goertzen says.

“This meteoric rise has led to some hand-wringing about whether prices have become unhinged from fundamentals, but there are a few good reasons not to be the farm on another 1980s-style crash.”

Mr. Goertzen points to the gains in farm productivity in the past several decades. He also cites a rise in demand for food around the world and soaring production of biofuel that have “roughly doubled agricultural commodity prices over the past decade or so.”

Low borrowing costs have also held down financing costs.

“Over all,” farmland’s solid earning potential and low financing cost make current prices look roughly ‘worth it’ (at least at current low rates,” Mr. Goertzen says.

“Although rising longer-term interest rates will likely lead to some backtracking over the next few years, sturdier farm balance sheets should help prevent a 1980s-style cycle of plummeting farmland prices and soaring farm bankruptcies,” he adds in his research note.

“However, heightened concern would be warranted if farmland were to continue its skyward path over the next few years.”


Pistachio, early walnut harvest underway in California capitalpress

The harvests of pistachios and early-variety walnuts are underway in California. Growers expect a 550 million pound pistachio crop, while the USDA estimates 495,000 tons of walnuts to be produced.

SACRAMENTO — The harvests of pistachios and the earliest varieties of walnuts are underway in California’s Central Valley.

As with many other crops, the pistachio harvest started a little earlier than usual this year, and growers expect to harvest about 550 million pounds of the nuts, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation.

Marketers say demand remains strong both domestically and abroad for pistachios from the Golden State, which produces about 98 percent of the U.S. supply of the nuts, the Farm Bureau notes.

Meanwhile, the first walnuts came off trees this year as the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service office here issued a prediction that 495,000 tons of the crop will be produced this year. That’s down just slightly from last year’s 497,000 tons.

There are about 255,000 bearing acres of walnuts in California this year, an all-time high, according to NASS.

Orchards with later walnut and pistachio varieties are being prepped for harvest, the agency reports. Harvests usually last well into October.

The shaking of almond trees around the state continues, with harvest of the Monterey variety having begun last week, according to NASS.


Today grain future

Corn futures closed the day with sharp gains, rising 19 to 22 cents across the board. The 6-10 day forecast calls for above average temps in most parts of the midwest, and also above average chances for moisture in most areas with the exception of IA/NE/MO. After the close, USDA released the most recent crop progress report which showed corn conditions in the gd/ex rating declined 3 points from last week to 61%. This figure remains much higher than the same period last year which was at 23%. The Brugler 500 Index declined 7 points from last week to 361. Weekly corn export inspections came in at 7.061 (mbu) vs. 15.330 mbu the previous week. Market year to date figures are now 665.781 (mbu) vs. 1.475 billion bushels last year.

Sep 13 Corn closed at $4.93 1/4, up 19 1/2 cents,
Dec 13 Corn closed at $4.85 1/2, up 22 cents,
Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.97 3/4, up 21 3/4 cents
May 14 Corn closed at $5.05 1/2, up 21 1/2 cents

Soybeans closed the day sharply higher, registering gains between 28 and 44 cents. After the close, USDA released the most recent crop progress report which showed soybean conditions in the gd/ex rating declined 2 points from last week to 62%. This figure remains much higher than the same period last year which was at 31%. The report also showed 72% setting pods, which is well below the 5 yr average of81%. The Brugler 500 Index declined 3 points from last week to 364. September Meal also closed sharply higher, notching gains of 11.50. A warmer outlook for the Midwest over the next 6-10 days as soybeans head into the bloom and pod fill stage was the catalyst for the strong move higher. Weekly soybean export inspections came in at 5.294 mbu vs. 3.433 mbu the previous week. Current market year to date figures are now at 1,308,188 mbu vs. 1,332,890 mbu from the previous year.

Sep 13 Soybeans closed at $13.22, up 38 3/4 cents,
Nov 13 Soybeans closed at $13.03 1/4, up 44 cents,
Jan 14 Soybeans closed at $13.03 3/4, up 42 cents,
Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $12.79, up 28 1/4 cents,
Sep 13 Soybean Meal closed at $420.30, up $11.50,
Sep 13 Soybean Oil closed at $43.45, up $0.64

Wheat futures closed 5 to 10 cents higher on the day. The Chicago contract was the strongest, finishing the day with double digit gains. Weekly export inspections came in at 33.787 mbu vs. 24.345 mbu the previous week. Current market year to date shipment figures are now 274.459 mbu, well ahead of the 213.967 mbu figure from the previous year. The Chicago Wheat Dec ‘13/Corn Dec ’13 spread declined another 12 cents to close at $1.6800. After the close, USDA showed 96% of the winter wheat crop is harvested, just above the 94% average. Spring wheat is just 18% harvested vs. the 38% average for this date. Spring wheat good/ex condition was unchanged from last week at 66%, but did lose 2% from the excellent category.

Sep 13 CBOT Wheat closed at $6.41 1/2, up 10 1/2 cents,
Sep 13 KCBT Wheat closed at $7.03 1/4, up 5 cents,
Sep 13 MGEX Wheat closed at $7.45 1/4, up 8 cents