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 the end of 2007, the USDA Census of Agriculture accounted for over 247,000 farming and ranching
operations in the state. This represents an 8% increase since the census of 1997. In other words,
Texas annually gained about 1,900 new working farms and ranches. However, the land base for Texas
agriculture has decreased by as much as 2% during the same period. Average ownership size declined
from 585 acres in 1997 to 527 acres in 2007.
At 92.6 million acres, native rangeland continues to be the prevailing general category of land use in Texas.
Since 1997, the accumulated localized losses of native rangeland have exceeded 4.8 million acres. In addition
the statewide area in dry (non-irrigated) cropland has declined by 1.57 million acres.
One of the most notable trends continues to be the conversion of native rangelands and croplands to non-native pastures.
Non-native pastures now account for over 11 million acres and are the third largest land use category in the state.
A more recent trend in land use is a shift to “wildlife management” use following state legislation in 1996 that created the
official land use category for tax appraisal purposes. Since then, lands classified as being in wildlife management have
increased to 2.37 million acres. Some of the local decline in native rangelands can be attributed to this shift to wildlife
In 2007 the average appraised market value of farms, ranches & forestlands in Texas was $1,196 per acre. On the average, this
represents a 140% increase in appraised market value over the 10-year period. The increase in market values have tended to be
highest in those areas surrounding major metropolitan growth areas. The Edwards Plateau, Llano Uplift and areas in the east-central
portion of the state have seen the steepest price inflation. The High Plains, Trans Pecos, and Coastal Sand Plains had appraised
market value increases of less than 60% over the 10-year period.
According to accumulated data County Appraisal Districts, over 2.1 million acres of farms, ranches and forestlands were converted to
other uses over the period from 1997 to 2007. Over 40% of this land conversion was related to growth and development associated with
population expansion in the state’s 25 highest growth counties. During this period, 861,765 acres were lost from the agricultural
land base in these counties. As a function of population increase, roughly 149 acres of agricultural lands were consumed per 1,000
The Brown Foundation
Magnolia Charitable Trust
The Jacob and Terese Hershey Foundation