Iowa Farmland Ownership and Tenure Survey 1982–2022: A Forty-Year Perspective

Jingyi Tong, Wendong Zhang
August 2023  [23-WP 651] (Revised)

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Tong, J. and W. Zhang. 2023. "Iowa Farmland Ownership and Tenure Survey 1982–2022: A Forty-Year Perspective." Working paper 23-WP 651. Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University.


Farmland often is a farmer’s single largest investment item, a major source of collateral, and a key component of the farmer’s debt portfolio. At the macroeconomic level, the value of land and buildings represents over 80 percent of all U.S. farm assets. As a result, changes in the farmland market and the implications for farmland owners, tenants, and beginning farmers are of perennial interest to policymakers, landowners, producers, and researchers. Using a statistically representative sample of Iowa landowners in July 2022, this study provides a critical update to the Iowa Farmland Ownership and Tenure Survey series and a forty-year perspective (1982 to present) on many aspects of land ownership, tenure, acquisition, succession, and characteristics of landowners, including non-operator landowners, farmland rental agreements, and the financing of farmland. The 2022 survey also added questions on the use of working land and edge-of-field conservation practices on Iowa farmland, the developments with trusts, and potential transfers to beginning farmers. This survey carries out an Iowa legislative mandate, and represents a nationally unique study that has been conducted every five years since the 1980s to better understand agricultural land ownership, tenure, and transfer.