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How will America's aging farmers transfer land to the next-generation?

New USDA report shows 93 million acres of all land in farms is expected to be transferred during 2015-2019

by Sustainable Food News 
August 26, 2016
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released a new report[] that examines U.S. farmland ownership and tenure, how land is acquired and transferred, the characteristics of land rental agreements, and landlord involvement in rented farmland operations.
Ten percent (93 million acres) of all land in farms is expected to be transferred during 2015-2019, most of which (6 percent) will change hands through gifts, trusts, or wills. Of all land expected to be transferred, only about a quarter (21 million acres) will be sold between nonrelatives, the study found.
In addition, another 14 percent (or 13 million acres) is anticipated to be sold from one relative to another. While the amount of farmland expected to be sold is relatively small, some of the land transferred through trusts, wills, and gifts may then be sold by the new owners, bolstering the supply of land available for purchase.
The agency's Economic Research Service (ERS) said farmland ownership, tenure, and transfer have important implications for land accessibility, particularly for young and beginning farmers.
"The advanced age of many farmers raises questions about how land will be transferred to the next generation of agricultural landowners," the ERS said.
Despite the significance of these issues, a number of information gaps remain. For example, to what degree are non- operator landlords involved in the farm sector, what barriers exist to accessing land in the rental market, and do operators and non-operators plan to transfer their land (when not through sales) through different channels, such as wills, trusts, or as gifts?
Findings from the report include:
  • Approximately 39 percent of the 911 million acres of farmland in the contiguous 48 States is rented
  • Smaller family farm operators are more likely to be full owners of land they operate.
  • The majority of rented acres are owned by non-operator landlords. 
  • Retired farmers make up 38 percent of non-operator landlords.
  • Most tenants rent land from multiple landlords. 
  • Most landlords have long-term relationships with their tenants, suggesting that access to new land
  • through renting may be limited. 
  • Non-operator landlords are more likely than operator landowners to acquire land through inheritance.
The ERS Report is here:[] 
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
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