The federal government knows how many acres of farmland are rented or leased; now the feds want to hear from the owners. This news release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) says the agency will be surveying farmland owners to measure financial impacts and challenges of land ownership, and landowners should expect to see forms for the Tenure, Ownership, and Transition of Agricultural Land (TOTAL) survey in the next few days.
“The latest Census of Agriculture helped us determine that more than 350 million acres of farmland in the United States are rented or leased, but it has been more than a decade since we spoke to individuals who own that land,” said Jay Johnson, Director of NASS’ Census and Survey Division. “Today’s economic conditions change so quickly that we constantly have the need for new and updated data, which reflect the true conditions in agriculture sector.”
More than 80,000 farmland owners and producers across the United States will receive TOTAL forms. The TOTAL survey program will collect data from both farmers and landlords, who are not farm operators themselves, to create a complete picture of farm costs, land ownership, demographics about landowners, and improvements made to farmland and buildings, among other characteristics.
The survey builds on information collected in the 2012 Census of Agriculture. As with all parts of the Census, responses to TOTAL are mandatory by law. The same law also ensures confidentiality of individuals’ data. NASS safeguards the confidentiality of all responses, ensuring no individual respondent or operation can be identified.
USDA officials acknowledge that this is quite the lengthy survey but point out how much value there is in the information farmers and landowners provide.
Results will be published in August 2015.