Crop acreage managed under mix of owner operation and lease agreements

Vertical bar chart showing crop acreage by ownership and principal field crop for survey years 2018, 2019, and 2021.

The proportion of farmland managed under a lease agreement and land that is managed by owner-operators varies across crops, according to data collected from Agricultural Resource Management Surveys (ARMS). Owner-operators farmed close to half of U.S. corn, soybean, and barley acres but roughly a third of sorghum and cotton acres. While both cotton and sorghum acreage were roughly evenly split among owner-operated, cash-rent, and share-rent agreements, share-rented farmland had a lower proportion of corn, soybean, and barley acreage. Cash contracts are those in which the tenant pays a fixed rent and provides both inputs and management, and share-based contracts are those in which the landlord and tenant split costs and revenues. Other agreements, such as hybrid arrangements, make up less than 1 percent of crops based on planted acreage in the survey year. Researchers with USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) examined information supplied by farmers from ARMS across various crops to find that the overall trend in the farmland market favors cash-rented farmland. More information on land leasing can be found in the ERS report Farmland Rental and Conservation Practice Adoption, published in March 2024.

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