Data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that of the 2.3 billion acres in the U.S. about 45 percent is currently classified as cropland and pastureland. Combined, cropland and grassland/rangeland account for 1.02 billion acres. The United States has the largest amount of arable land of any country in the world.
The Economic Research Service’s Major Land Use series is an accounting of public and private land in all 50 states, and is a series that has been published at roughly 5-year intervals since 1945. The ERS says land use and land-use changes involve important economic and environmental implications for commodity production and trade, open space, soil and water conservation, and other policy issues.
Forest-use land was found to be the largest use in the U.S. at 671 million acres (30 percent). Grassland pasture and range was second at 614 million acres (27 percent), followed by cropland at 408 million acres (18 percent).
The study found special uses land at 313 million acres (14 percent); miscellaneous uses at 197 million acres (9 percent); and urban land at 61 million acres (3 percent).
ERS says total cropland includes land planted for crops (82 percent of total cropland), cropland used for pasture, and idled cropland (including acreage removed from production under Government programs, such as the Conservation Reserve Program).
Earlier last fall, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) released data on foreign holdings of U.S. agricultural land. The report shows 20.9 million acres of U.S. agricultural land is owned by foreign interests. The report also shows foreigners have an interest (partial or total ownership) in 1.6 percent of all privately held agricultural land and 0.92 percent of all the land in the U.S.
Of the agricultural land held by foreigners, 58 percent is forestland, 13 percent is cropland and 26 percent is pasture and other agricultural land.
Canadians hold the largest amount of U.S. land owned by foreigners – almost 7.3 million acres, or 34 percent. Residents of the Netherlands own almost 3.9 million acres (18 percent); United Kingdom, over 1.5 million acres (7 percent); and Germany, almost 1.4 million acres (6 percent).