State Foreign Ownership Proposals

In January 2023, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA”) published its latest report of information collected under the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act (AFIDA) of 1978, which provides data on foreign U.S. landholdings through December 31, 2021. Under AFIDA, certain foreign persons are required to disclose their ownership interests and investments in farm, ranch, and forestland to USDA. According to the report, foreign persons hold an interest in over 40 million acres of private U.S. agricultural land, an increase of 2.4 million acres from 2020. From 2011 through 2021, foreign ownership in private U.S. farmland has increased 35.7%.

This increase of foreign agricultural landholdings has become a growing concern for the majority of state legislatures. In the past two years or so, the issue of restricting foreign ownership and investments in privately held agricultural land emerged or reemerged in at least twenty-six states. Currently, there are approximately fourteen states that specifically forbid or limit nonresident aliens, foreign business entities, and/or foreign governments from acquiring or owning an interest in farmland within their state.

Additionally, several other states have introduced bills that take their own approach to restricting foreign acquisitions of farmland and real property. Some states have proposed measures that would restrict foreign ownership in not only agricultural land, but all real property located within their state. Of the states that have considered restrictions within the previous two years, Indiana is currently the only state to enact a foreign ownership law during that time period. With the majority of states considering proposals that seek to restrict foreign interests in farmland, other states may begin to consider the issue of prohibiting or limiting foreign purchases and ownership of land within their state.

Brown, Micah. “State Foreign Ownership Proposals.” Southern Ag Today 3(8.5). February 24, 2023. Permalink