Ten More States Pass Foreign Land Ownership Laws This Year

During the 2023 legislative session, the issue of restricting foreign investments and ownership in U.S. land, especially agricultural land, emerged or reemerged in the majority of states. This reemerging interest in restricting foreign investments in U.S. land is partly due to the purchase of land near U.S. Air Force bases in Texas and North Dakota by two Chinese-owned companies.

Currently, there are approximately twenty-four states that specifically limit or restrict foreign individuals, foreign business entities, and/or foreign governments from acquiring or owning an interest in farmland within their state, which is up from fourteen states in 2022. During the 2023 legislative session, ten states enacted a new law restricting certain foreign investments in land located within their state, and two states—North Dakota and Oklahoma—amended their laws that prohibit certain foreign purchases of land. Although twenty-four states now have some type of restriction, state laws vary widely, and some states restrict only certain purchases. For example, the majority of foreign ownership laws enacted in 2023 seek to restrict investments from specific countries, particularly China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia.

Aside from state action, Congress is also considering several proposals that seek to establish a national restriction on certain foreign investments in U.S. land. Specifically, the Senate recently passed an amendment to its version of the bicameral National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) which seeks to prevent certain investments in U.S. agricultural businesses and land by China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia. The Senate version of NDAA is currently being reconciled with the House version of the bill.

Brown, Micah. “Ten More States Pass Foreign Land Ownership Laws This Year.Southern Ag Today 3(38.5). September 22, 2023. Permalink