22 July 2009
Texas Leads the Nation in Private Ranch Holdings
Texas is home to over 142 million acres of private farms, ranches and forestlands, thus leading the nation in land area devoted to privately-owned working lands. These lands account for 84% of the state’s entire land area and provide substantial economic, environmental, and recreational resources to the benefit of the state’s entire population.
By 2007, smaller operations – those less than 100 acres in size – accounted for over 50% the state’s total farming & ranching operations, while occupying only 3% of the land area. This class of smaller operations increased by 22% since 1997, and was the only ownership size class showing an overall net increase in land area across the state.
The amount of land in mid-sized farms & ranches (500 to 2,000 acres) has continued to decline at the rate of about 250,000 acres per year.
Large ownerships – those greater than 2000 acres in size – account for about 4% of all farms & ranches, but they occupy about 62% of the state’s total farm & ranchland. While larger operations have slightly increased in total number since 1997they have decreased in land area by 461,000 acres.
The loss or gain in area represented by large operations varied according to ecological region. For example, since 1997 over 2.8 million acres of larger farms & ranches in the Trans Pecos, Edwards Plateau and South Texas were fragmented into mid-sized and smaller ownerships. In other regions – the High Plains, Rolling Plains, Coastal Sand Plains, Oak Woods & Prairies, and Blackland Prairies – about 2.5 million acres of mid-sized properties were consolidated into larger operations.