Only 2% of U.S. farmland held by foreign investors

Published on: Sep 27, 2013

Foreign investors hold an interest in 25,715,588 acres of U.S. agricultural land, which is approximately 2% of all privately held U.S. agricultural land, and 1% of all land in the U.S., according to USDA's Farm Service Agency's latest reporting on foreign investors' holdings. 

The report, titled “Foreign Holdings of U.S. Agricultural Land Through December 31, 2011,” contains statistics that are current through Dec. 31, 2011.

Forest land accounted for 54% of all foreign held agricultural acreage, cropland for 19%, and pasture and other agricultural land for 27%.

Foreign holdings of U.S. agricultural land were relatively steady from 2000 through 2006; between 2006 and 2007, there was a significant 3.6 million acre increase. Since 2008, there have been moderate increases each year ranging from 1.3 to 1.5 million acres.

The total foreign-held U.S. agricultural acres as of the last report, dated Dec. 31, 2010, were 24,224,807, resulting in an increase of 1,490,781 acres.

The report noted that most of the foreign investment in agricultural land is concentrated in the South and West.

The state of Texas has the largest amount of foreign held U.S. agricultural land with 2,894,563 acres. This figure represents only 1.9% of privately owned agricultural land in Texas. Maine has the second largest amount of foreign held agricultural acres with 2,877,965. The majority of these acres consist of forest or timber land, totaling 2,830,467 acres. Washington has the third largest amount of foreign held agricultural land with 1,671,102 acres, which is 7.6% of its privately held agricultural land.

In terms of percentages, approximately 16% of Maine’s privately held agricultural land is held by foreign investors; this is approximately 11% of the reported foreign held agricultural land in the United States. Hawaii has the second largest percentage of foreign held U.S. agricultural land, 158,887 acres, which is 8.8% of the privately held agricultural land in the state and slightly less than 1% of the reported foreign held agricultural land in the United States. The majority of foreign held agricultural land in Hawaii consists of 78,852 acres of pasture land. Washington (7.6%), Alabama (5.4%) and Florida (5.3) have the next largest percentages of reported foreign held agricultural land.

Canadian investors own the largest amount of reported foreign held agricultural and non-agricultural land, with 28%, or 7,250,834 acres (report 1B). Foreign persons from an additional four countries, the Netherlands with 19%, Germany with 7%, the United Kingdom with 6%, and Portugal with 5% collectively hold 9,511,437 acres or 36% of the foreign held acres in the United States. The remaining 9,577,982 acres, or 36% of all reported foreign held agricultural and non-agricultural land, is held by various other countries.

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