Agricultural Economics and Land Ownership
To provide detailed estimates of agricultural land ownership,
financing, and inputs by farm operators and landlords for each state. The United
States Code, Title 13, authorizes this survey and provides for mandatory
COVERAGEFarm or ranch operators that participated in the census of
agriculture, were classified in SIC Major Group 01 or 02, and sold or normally
would have sold $1000 worth of agricultural products in the post-census calendar
year; and landlords of those operators. The 1988 survey provided estimates for 3
million agricultural landholders and 1.8 million farms.
CONTENTLandlords and operators provide data on their share of farm
operating expenditures, capital improvements, assets, and debt for agricultural
production. All landowners provide data on when and how agricultural land was
purchased, type of land held, number and type of lease arrangements, real estate
taxes paid, new land purchases, and sources of financing new purchases.
Operators provide data on farm-related income, government payments, the
source and amount of off-farm income, type of farm work and characteristics for
themselves and their family. Landlords provide data on their participation in
farm decisionmaking, net cash income from all agriculture activities, type of
organization, and individual characteristics.
FREQUENCYAs needed for years following the census of agriculture; about
every 10 years. The last survey was for 1988, comparable surveys were conducted
for 1979 and 1970, and limited surveys were taken for 1965 and 1960. Previously,
questions were included in cens uses beginning in 1840 (finance), 1880 (tenure)
and 1890 (mortgage debt). Operator data collection begins 1 month after the
post-census year, and reported data are for activities taking place during the
post-census calendar year.
METHODSA two-stage, mail-out/mail-back survey of over 44,000 operators
and 44,000 private landlords; separate forms are used for operators and their
landlords. Operators are selected by systematic sample to assure adequate
coverage by state and minimize reportin g burden. Strata are based on state,
operator tenure and value of agricultural sales; probability of selection is
higher for operators that are part-owners, tenants or have large sales.
Landlords are identified by operators and subsequently sent a surv ey form.
For 1988, a total of 500 farm and ranch operators with large total value of
sales (varying by state) were selected with certainty, and 43,625 operators were
selected from non-certainty strata. Operators identified 47,000 landlords; about
3,000 landlords not mailed forms that either had insufficient name and address
information or were public landlords. Public landlords include Indian
reservations, the Bureau of Land Management, State and railroad companies. Some
data were imputed for public landlords, they consisted of acres and value of the
land rented to operators. The sample did not include horticultural specialty
farms, institutional (abnormal) farms, successors of farmers that quit or
retired from farming since 1987, or new operations that began in 1988.
PRODUCTSThe 1988 Agricultural Economics and Land Ownership Survey
report, released 18 months after the survey year, and provides estimates of farm
and ranch land acquisition and ownership, capitalization and debt, operating
inputs and costs, and operator-landlor d relationships. Major tabulations
include landlord debt structure, operator assets and debts, and operator sources
The Economic Research Service (USDA) uses the data to assess changes in land ownership
patterns over the past twenty years. The Farmers Credit Administration uses the
debt to asset ratios and net cash return for analysis of debt structure by type
of farms . The Congressional Budget Office uses the data for economic policy analysis.
State agriculture offices and farm organizations use the statistics to check data
and benchmarks for estimating, economic analysis. Land-grant universities use
them for economic policy analysis.
SPECIAL FEATURESProvides the only comprehensive source of data on land
ownership, and inputs contributed to agricultural production by landlords.