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Foreign-held U.S. farmland

Foreign-held U.S. farmland

Foreign individuals have an interest in 22.2 million acres of U.S. agricultural land. Canadians hold the largest amount: 7.7 million acres.  

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) has released the latest report on foreign holdings of U.S. agricultural land. The publication contains statistics through Feb. 28, 2009, regarding the 22.2 million acres of U.S. agricultural land in which foreign persons hold an interest.

The report, titled Foreign Holdings of U.S. Agricultural Land, is now available on the FSA Web site at:

The publication reports that foreign persons have an interest in 1.7 percent of all privately held U.S. agricultural land and 0.98 percent of all land in the United States. This is a 1.3 million acre increase from 2008.

The report includes a wide variety of figures and statistics, including:

A breakdown of agricultural land held by foreign persons by the type of acreage:

• Forest land - 59 percent.

• Cropland - 14 percent.

• Pasture and other agricultural land — 27 percent.

Countries with foreign persons holding the largest amount of agricultural and non-agricultural land include:

• Canadians hold the largest amount of land: Over 7.7 million acres, or 34 percent.

Foreign persons from the following three countries collectively hold more than 6.8 million acres, or 30 percent of the foreign held acres in the U.S.:

• Netherlands, almost 3.9 million acres (17 percent),

• United Kingdom, over 1.5 million acres (7 percent), and

• Germany, over 1.4 million acres (6 percent).

The states with the highest proportions of foreign owned agricultural land to all privately owned agricultural land:

• Maine has the largest amount of foreign held U.S. agricultural land at 2.82 million acres, or 15.7 percent of the privately held agricultural land in the state.

• In Hawaii, 8.8 percent of private agricultural land is foreign held.

• Washington (7.6 percent), Nevada (5.2 percent), and Alabama (5.1 percent) have the next largest proportions of foreign held land.

The publication's findings are based on reports submitted in compliance with the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act of 1978 (AFIDA). The law was created to establish a nationwide system for the collection of information pertaining to foreign ownership of U.S. agricultural land.

The regulations require foreign investors who acquire, transfer or hold an interest (other than a security interest) in U.S. agricultural land to report such holdings and transactions to the Secretary of Agriculture on an AFIDA Report Form FSA-153. The data gained from these disclosures is used in the preparation of an annual report to Congress.

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