Major Land Uses

ERS has been a source of major land use estimates in the United States for over 60 years, and the related U.S. cropland used for crops series (Summary table 3 below) dates back to 1910 and is updated annually. The Major Land Uses (MLU) series is the longest running, most comprehensive accounting of all major uses of public and private land in the United States. The series was started in 1945, and has since been published about every 5 years, coinciding with the Census of Agriculture.

Data from all 15 Major Land Uses reports have been combined into a set of files showing major land use estimates by region and State from 1945 to 2012. Note that Alaska and Hawaii were added in 1959, when they achieved Statehood. Since Alaska contains such vast acreage, U.S. totals in all categories prior to 1959 may appear to change precipitously.

For citations for previous MLU reports and sources for the 2012 data update, see references. See the glossary for detailed definitions of major land uses and terms.

Errata: On May 7, 2024, Summary Table 3 "Total Cropland Used for Crops" in the Major Land Uses data product was revised for 2013–15 to be consistent with and reflect the underlying historical data available in the USDA, NASS QuickStats database since 2019. About a third of the values were affected, with revisions to total crops harvested, total cropland harvested, and cropland used for crops. The 2013 value for double cropped acres was also revised.

Data Set Last Updated Next Update
Summary tables
Summary table 1: Major uses of land, by region, State, and United States, 2012 8/28/2017
Summary table 2: Major uses of cropland, by region, State, and United States, 2012 8/28/2017
Summary Table 3—Total cropland used for crops: Cropland harvested (including double cropped), crop failure, and cultivated summer fallow for the United States, annual, 1910–2023 5/7/2024
Summary table 4: Total grazing land, by region, State, and United States, 2012 8/28/2017
Summary table 5: Special uses of land, by region State, and United States, 2012 8/28/2017
Total land
Total land, 1945-2012, by State: The sum of cropland, pasture/range, forest-use land, special uses, urban area, and other land. 8/28/2017
Cropland, 1945-2012, by State: The sum of cropland used for crops, cropland idled, and cropland used for pasture. 8/28/2017
- Cropland components
Cropland used for crops, 1945-2012, by State: Cropland harvested, crop failure, and cultivated summer fallow. 8/28/2017
Cropland used for pasture, 1945-2012, by State: Pasture considered to be in long-term crop rotation. Includes some land used for pasture that could have been cropped without additional improvement. 8/28/2017
Cropland idled, 1945-2012, by State: Land completely idled and lands seeded to soil improvement crops but not harvested or pastured. 8/28/2017
Grassland pasture and range
Grassland pasture and range, 1945-2012, by State: Grassland and other nonforested pasture and range in farms plus estimates of open or nonforested grazing lands not in farms. Does not include cropland used for pasture or forest land grazed. 8/28/2017
Forest-use land
Total forest-use land, 1945-2012, by State: Forest-use land grazed and forest-use land not grazed. 8/28/2017
- Forest-use land components
Forest-use land grazed, 1945-2012, by State: Woodland grazed in farms plus estimates of forested grazing land not in farms. 8/28/2017
Forest-use not grazed, 1945-2012, by State: Total forest-use land minus forest-use land grazed. 8/28/2017
Special uses
Total special uses, 1945-2012, by State: Rural transportation, rural parks and wildlife, defense and industrial, plus miscellaneous farm and other special uses. 8/28/2017
- Special use components
Rural transportation, 1945-2012, by State: Highways, roads, and railroad rights-of-way, plus airport facilities outside of urban areas. 8/28/2017
Rural parks and wildlife areas, 1945-2012, by State: Federal and State parks, wilderness areas, and wildlife refuges. 8/28/2017
Defense and industrial areas, 1945-2012, by State: Land owned by Department of Defense and Department of Energy and used for airfields, research and development, housing, and miscellaneous military uses. 8/28/2017
Miscellaneous farmland, 1945-2012, by State: Farmsteads, farm roads, and lanes plus other miscellaneous farmland. 8/28/2017
Urban area
Urban area, 1945-2012, by State: Densely-populated areas with at least 50,000 people (urbanized areas) and densely-populated areas with 2,500 to 50,000 people (urban clusters). 8/28/2017
Other or miscellaneous land uses
All other land uses, 1945-2012, by State: Unclassified uses such as marshes, swamps, bare rock, deserts, tundra plus other uses not estimated, classified, or inventoried. 8/28/2017
CSV Format of Historical Data
All data in CSV (comma separated values) format 8/28/2017