Foreign entities have a partial or total ownership in 1.6 percent of all privately held U.S. agricultural land. according to a USDA report. That's a 1.4 million-acre increase from 2007 levels. The report includes statistics on the 20.9 million acres of U.S. agricultural land in which foreign persons held an interest through Feb. 28, 2008.

The report, “Foreign Holdings of U.S. Agricultural Land,” is available on the Farm Service Agency’s Web site. Looking at all U.S. lands, foreign ownership claims 0.94 percent of that total.

Among the information you will find within the USDA report includes:

• A breakdown of land held by foreign entities by the type of acreage: forest land, 58 percent; cropland, 13 percent; pasture and other agricultural land, 26 percent

• Which countries have foreign entities holding the largest amount of land: Canadians hold the largest amount of land with almost 7.3 million acres, or 34 percent.

• Entities from The Netherlands, United Kingdom and Germany, collectively hold more than 6.7 million acres (31 percent) of the foreign-held acres in the United States. The Netherlands have nearly 3.9 million acres (18 percent), United Kingdom has over 1.5 million acres (7 percent) and Germany claims about 4 million acres (6 percent).

The report shows the proportions of foreign-owned agricultural land compared to all privately owned agricultural land by state. For example,

• Maine has the largest amount of foreign-held U.S. agricultural land at 3.35 million acres, or 18.7 percent of the privately held agricultural land in the state.

• In Hawaii, 8.8 percent of private agricultural land is foreign held.

• Washington (7.2 percent), Nevada (5.2 percent), and Alabama (5.1 percent) have the next largest proportions of foreign-held land.

The publication’s findings are based on reports submitted in compliance with the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act of 1978. The law was created to establish a nationwide system for the collection of information pertaining to foreign ownership in U.S. agricultural land. Congress receives an annual report on the status.

Source: SW Farm Press