USDA to gauge farmland ownership and farm economics

Farm Forum

Des Moines, IA – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is contacting farmland owners to measure financial impacts and challenges of land ownership. Landowners began receiving forms for the survey, called Tenure, Ownership, and Transition of Agricultural Land (TOTAL), at the end of December.

“The recent Census of Agriculture counted more than 16 million acres of land that were rented or leased in Iowa, but it has been more than a decade since we spoke to landowners themselves,” said Greg Thessen, Director of the NASS Upper Midwest Regional Office. “I hope all who receive the TOTAL report will respond to help update land ownership information. The data will ensure that decisions impacting Iowa farmland are based on accurate information that comes directly from the source.”

TOTAL is a part of the Census of Agriculture program, which means response to this survey is mandatory. The TOTAL report will collect data from both farm operators and landlords who are not farm operators to create a complete picture of farm costs, land ownership, demographics about farm operators and landlords, and improvements made to farmland and buildings, among other characteristics. More than 80,000 farmland owners and producers across the United States will receive TOTAL forms, including 1,700 landowners in Iowa.

“We realize some producers and landowners may have questions or need clarification,” explained Thessen. “In February, our interviewers will begin reaching out to those producers and landowners who have not yet responded to answer any questions they may have and help them fill out their questionnaires.”

In addition to accurate data, NASS is strongly committed to confidentiality. Information provided by respondents is confidential by law. The agency safeguards the confidentiality of all responses, ensuring no individual respondent or operation can be identified.

NASS will publish results of the TOTAL survey in its Quick Stats database in August 2015. Quick Stats is available online at NASS will also publish the economic data gathered in the annual Farm Production Expenditures report on August 4, 2015. All NASS reports are available online at