• Working Land Loss
    More than 54 percent of total land conversion occurred in the state’s 25 fastest growing counties. During this period (1997-2012), approximately 590,000 acres were lost from the agricultural land base in these counties.
  • Population Growth
    From 1997 to 2012, the Texas population increased from 19 million to 26 million residents, an increase of 36 percent or approximately 500,000 new residents annually. The majority (87 percent) of the population increase occurred within the state’s top 25 highest growth counties.
  • Land Fragmentation
    Average ownership size declined from 581 acres in 1997 to 521 acres in 2012. By the end of 2012, the USDA Census of Agriculture accounted for nearly 249,000 farming and ranching operations in the state, representing a 9 percent increase since the 1997 census.

A Changing Texas

Texas working lands are undergoing a fundamental change, one that has implications for rural economies, national and food security, and conservation of water and other natural resources. Native landscapes are increasingly threatened by suburbanization, rural development and land fragmentation driven by rapid population growth.

Texas Land Facts

From 1997 to 2012

Texas population increase 36%

Total population increase in top 25 fastest growing counties 87%

Total land conversion from top 25 fastest growing counties 54%

Increase in farming and ranching operations 9%

What Does This Mean?


The state’s increasing population, particularly within or in surrounding urban centers, continues to have significant influence on the continued loss of working lands, changing ownership sizes, and land values.

Land Conversion

Like more traditional home real estate values, rural land values vary by location, land use, property size, and other characteristics. Changes in land value were closely tied to distance from major metropolitan growth areas. The average land value, for example, within the top 25 fastest growing counties was $5,266 per acre in 2012, compared to the state-wide average of $1,573 per acre.

Farming and Ranching Operations

The shift in ownership size or loss of larger ownerships through fragmentation may have potential implications for profitability and continued stability of working lands.

Saving the water and the soil must start where the first rain drop falls.

Lyndon B. Johnson

Former President & Native Texan

Recent News

05 Feb
Collaboration aims to advance private land stewardship
The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Texas A&M IRNR, and the East Foundation signed an MOU that formed the Center for Private Land Stewardship (CPLS). Read more
04 Feb
Bennett Land Stewardship Conference set for April 23-24 in Kerrville
Specific topics will include aquifer recharge and spring flow, drought, urban sprawl and rainwater harvesting. Read more
20 Nov
From the Ground Up
KBTX interviews Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources Associate Director Todd Snelgrove regarding the loss of Texas' working lands. Read more
21 Oct
Texas Land Trends Publishes New Report
The Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources' Texas Land Trends has published its latest report on the status of the state's rural working lands. Read more


Contact Us
  • Address: 1500 Research Pkwy
    College Station, TX 77843
  • Phone: (979) 845-1851
  • Email: irnr@tamu.edu
About Land Trends

Texas Land Trends was developed by the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources in cooperation with Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, and Texas Agricultural Land Trust. Texas Land Trends was funded by the Meadows Foundation, Houston Endowment, Mitchell Foundation, Hershey Foundation and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.