Foreign Flags on U.S. Farmland

Oct 12, 2021

Is it old news yet that around 40% of farmland is owned by non-operators who are non-local investors like Bill Gates?

More than a hop, skip, and a jump away: A small portion (approx. 3%) of that non-local ownership is actually non-domestic.

Where the numbers land:

  • Foreign investors own about 35.2M acres of farmland.
  • That’s enough acreage to fill up the state of Iowa.
  • And it’s worth about $63B.
  • Canadian investors own about 29%.

Other foreign farmland investors are in the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and China.

Booming foreign farmland grab: Between 2009 and 2019 the amount of farmland owned by non-U.S. entities grew 60%, according to USDA data.

Don’t like the sound of that? Some of your congressional representatives don’t either.

In July, the U.S. House passed an ag appropriations bill that included Rep. Dan Newhouse’s (R-WA) amendment blocking ag purchases by companies affiliated with the Chinese government.

And just this month, Texas reps Ronny Jackson (R) and Filemon Vela (D) tabled the Foreign Adversary Risk Management (FARM) Act, which would require the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. to monitor foreign investment into the ag industry and add the Ag Secretary as a member. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) introduced the Senate companion bill.

Take it back now, y’all: To keep land in the hands of people who live and work on it, American Farmland Trust (along with other land-use groups) is advocating for changes to capital gains tax policy that would incentivize selling land to individual owners, including qualified beginner farmers.