How Much Land Is Used for Agriculture?

The article discusses agricultural land use in the United States.

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Modern agriculture has made significant advances in recent years in terms of efficiency and productivity. However, it still requires a significant amount of land to produce the food and fiber that we need. In the United States, farmland covers more than 900 million acres, or about 38 percent of the total land area.

Of that farmland, approximately 70 percent is used for growing crops. The other 30 percent is used for pastureland (for grazing animals) or other purposes such as forestry or recreation.

The amount of land used for agriculture varies significantly from one country to another. In some cases, it is due to differences in climate or geography. In others, it reflects different economic priorities or patterns of land ownership.

In general, countries with large populations and/or limited land resources tend to have a higher percentage of their land devoted to agriculture. This is often necessary to ensure that the population has enough to eat.

In developed countries like the United States, where there is an abundance of land and a relatively small population, agricultural lands make up a smaller percentage of the total land area. However, even in these countries, farming still requires a significant amount of land.

Agricultural Land Use in the United States

Approximately 38% of the United States is used for agriculture according to the USDA. The remaining 62% is used for other purposes such as housing, industry, and recreation. The total area of agricultural land in the US is about 922 million acres. This includes both cropland and pastureland.

The United States has more agricultural land than any other country in the world, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. In 2016, the FAO estimated that the U.S. had 922 million acres of arable land, which is land that can be used for crops or pasture. This made up approximately 16 percent of the world’s total arable land.

The amount of agricultural land in the United States has changed over time. In 1950, the U.S. had 1 billion acres of farmland, which was a decrease of 2 percent from 1949. The number of acres decreased every year until 1964 when it began to increase again. In 2016, there was a decrease of 1 percent from 2015.

The top five states for agricultural land are Texas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Illinois. Together, these five states make up almost half of the total agricultural land in the United States.

Agricultural Land Use by State

Did you know that agriculture is responsible for the majority of land use in the United States? In fact, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), agricultural land use accounts for nearly 80 percent of all land use in the country!

This means that agricultural land use plays a vital role in our economy and our way of life. But how is this land used? And how does it vary from state to state?

Here’s a closer look at agricultural land use in the United States, including a state-by-state breakdown of how this land is being used.

State-by-State Breakdown of Agricultural Land Use

Alabama: 61 percent
Alaska: 2 percent
Arizona: 18 percent
Arkansas: 53 percent
California: 36 percent
Colorado: 27 percent
Connecticut: 1 percent
Delaware: 14 percent
Florida: 9 percent
Georgia: 42 percent
Hawaii: 5 percent
Idaho: 63 percent
Illinois: 58 percent
Indiana: 61 percent
Iowa: 72percent Kansas: 60 percent Kentucky : 55percent Louisiana : 41percent Maine : 10percent Maryland : 12percent Massachusetts : 5percent Michigan : 42percent Minnesota : 66percent Mississippi : 60percent Missouri : 68percent Montana : 69Percent Nebraska : 77Percent Nevada 3Percent New Hampshire2Percent New Jersey6Percent New Mexico11Percent New York10 Percent North Carolina37Percent North Dakota70 Percent Ohio54 Percent Oklahoma48 Percent Oregon17 Percent Pennsylvania54 Percent Rhode Island3 Percent South Carolina31 Percent South Dakota69 Percent Tennessee49 Percent Texas33 Percent Utah18 Percent Vermont6 Percent Virginia28 Percent Washington21 Percent West Virginia49Percent Wisconsin60Percent Wyoming53Percent As you can see, agriculture plays a significant role in many states across the country. In some states, such as Iowa and Nebraska, agriculture accounts for more than 70 percent of all land use!

Agricultural Land Use Around the World

Agricultural land makes up a large percentage of the earth’s surface- over 38% according to the most recent estimate.1That means that almost a third of the planet is used for growing crops and raising livestock. Agriculture is essential to human civilization, providing food and other products for people all over the world. But as the population continues to grow, the amount of agricultural land is shrinking.

Agricultural land use has changed dramatically over the past several hundred years. The World Resources Institute reports that the total amount of land cultivated worldwide has more than tripled since 1700, from about 1.5 billion hectares to 5 billion hectares in 2005 (an area roughly equivalent to the United States).

While the increase in overall agricultural land use is largely due to population growth and the expansion of cropland into new areas, it has also been driven by changes in land use practices, such as the conversion of natural habitats to pastureland and cropland and the intensification of agriculture on existing farmland. The result is that today, agriculture is a major source of habitat loss and degradation around the world.

The42% of the world’s ice-free land is used for agriculture—more than any other use.
Approximately 70% of this area is used for livestock grazing, while 30% is used for growing crops.
The total amount of agricultural land has increased by 11% since 1960.
Between 1960 and 2000, the amount of cropland globally increased by almost 50%.
During the same period, pastureland increased by 19%.
The majority of this expansion came at the expense of natural habitats, such as forests, woodlands, and grasslands.
Between 1960 and 2000, an estimated 1.5 billion hectares of natural habitats were converted to agricultural land—an area roughly equivalent to half of the United States.

Agricultural Land Use by Country

Afghanistan – 13%
Argentina – 11%
Australia – 54%
Bolivia – 33%
Brazil – 12%
Canada – 49%
China – 15%
Congo, Democratic Republic of the – 22%
Egypt – 2%
France – 40%
Germany – 36%
India – 52%
Indonesia – 12%
Iran – 8%
Iraq – 3%
Ireland – 69%
Israel – 3%
Italy – 34%
Japan – 21% Kazakhstan – 8%


In the United States, the amount of land used for agriculture has been declining in recent years. In 2012, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated that 914 million acres were used for crops and pasture, down from 1.017 billion acres in 2007. This is a decrease of about 10%. However, the amount of land used for agriculture varies greatly from country to country. For example, in China, almost one-third of the country’s land is used for agriculture, while in the United Kingdom, only about 3% is used for agriculture.

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