We all know Iowa is known for its agriculture. The wide-open fields make it the perfect place for larger farms. However, farms are not the only thing that is staking its claim to the land.

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It’s always interesting to find out who owns how much land. We know that there are many large farms here in Iowa, but how much of the land does the farmer really own? Around 51 to 53 percent of farmland in Iowa is leased. As of the 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture, in Fayette County, 50 percent of the farmland is rented.

But what about land ownership?

Some of the largest owners of land in Iowa aren’t in agriculture.

Palisades-Kepler State Park-- Townsquare Media; via Kailey Foster
Palisades-Kepler State Park-- Townsquare Media; via Kailey Foster

  • The State of Iowa- 390,706 Acres

The State of Iowa owns a total of 390,706 acres of land in Iowa under the jurisdiction of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Of those acres, 379,195 are managed by the DNR as Wildlife Management Areas, State Parks & Recreation Areas, and State Forests.

  • Land Trusts- 286,031 Acres

A land trust is a nonprofit that has ownership and manages the land. Land trusts in  Iowa help conserve family farms and natural areas. Some significant land trusts in Iowa include Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (195,660 acres),  and Sustainable Iowa Land Trust (1,118 acres).

  • The Federal Government -97,509 Acres

Of Iowa’s 35,860,480 acres, the federal government owns 0.3 percent or 97,509 acres. Iowa is ranked number two when it comes to the states with the least land owned by the federal government.

And of course, in a state like Iowa, the most significant landowners are the farmers.

  • Amana Farms- 26,000 acres

Made up of 26,000 acres, Amana Farms is one of Iowa’s largest continuous farms. The farm includes “award-winning crop fields, a 2,400 cow/calf herd, a 4,000 head cattle feedlot, an anaerobic digester, and Iowa’s largest privately held forest.”

  • Dandyland Farms- 9,000 Acres

The name Dandyland came to be in 1981 when Dan and Wendy married as a combination of their two names. They produce top-quality grains for ethanol, livestock feed, and seed and oil markets.

We can’t mention some of the state’s largest landowners without mentioning some significant ones:

  • Holding Family—400,000 Acres (total)

If you are an avid skier, you may have heard of the Utah and Idaho resorts Sun Valley and Snowbasin. The owner of these popular ski resorts has land in Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. They even have a steak here in Iowa.

  • Bill Gates- 600 Acres

A lot of people have been watching as billionaire Bill Gates continues to buy farmland across the United States. He currently owns 242,000 acres in the US and 600 of those are in Iowa. On an Ask Me Anything forum on Reedit he explains his farmland purchases; “I have invested in these farms to make them more productive and create more jobs. There isn't some grand scheme involved - in fact, all these decisions are made by a professional investment team.”

  • Joe Burrow and 25 Other Professional Athletes- 104 Acres

Cincinnati Bengals Talk cia Youtube and Canva
Cincinnati Bengals Talk cia Youtube and Canva

The group of athletes recently bought a 104- acre corn and soybean farm in northern Iowa. The purchase is part of a $5 million investment the athletes are making in farm purchases.

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