Foreign-owned U.S. farmland acres rose more than 8% in 2022 -USDA

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The issue of who owns American farmland, and whether foreign ownership of farmland presents a national security risk, has been hotly discussed in Washington.

By Reuters Updated on December 18, 2023

Dec 15 (Reuters) – The number of U.S. farm acres owned by foreign entities grew more than 8% in 2022, though the 43.4 million acres of foreign-owned forest and farm land is just 3.4% of the country’s agricultural land, said a government report on Friday.

The issue of who owns American farmland, and whether foreign ownership of farmland presents a national security risk, has been hotly discussed in Washington, and some members of Congress have proposed limits on foreign farmland ownership.

Foreign entities bought 3.4 million acres of U.S. farmland in 2022, with the biggest increases in Colorado, Alabama and Michigan, said the latest report on foreign agricultural landholdings by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Canada remains the largest foreign investor, accounting for 32% of the acres, much of which are forest in Maine.

China’s holdings, a primary concern of lawmakers who want to restrict foreign ownership of farms, account for less than 1% of foreign-owned acres at 350,000, a slight decrease from 2021.

The pace of foreign farmland acquisitions has increased since 2017, averaging nearly 3 million acres annually, USDA said.

USDA also said on Friday that it plans to update how it collects such data to better understand the impact of foreign land holdings on rural communities and the exact location of foreign-owned acres.

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