USDA's Farm Service Agency today released the latest report on foreign holdings of U.S. agricultural land. The publication contains statistics through Feb. 28, 2008, regarding the 20.9 million acres of U.S. agricultural land in which foreign persons hold an interest.

That figure represents an increase of 1.4 million acres since 2007, although it still adds up to less than 1 percent of all U.S. farmland.

The publication reports that foreigners have an interest (partial or total ownership) in 1.6 percent of all privately held U.S. agricultural land and 0.92 percent of all land in the United States. Of the land owned by foreigners, USDA provides percentages by the type of acreage:

  • Forest land - 58 percent
  • Cropland - 13 percent
  • Pasture and other agricultural land - 26 percent

Which countries have foreigners holding the largest amount of land?

  • Canadians hold the largest amount of land: almost 7.3 million acres, or 34 percent.

People from these three countries collectively hold more than 6.7 million acres, or 31 percent of the foreign held acres in the U.S.:

  • Netherlands, almost 3.9 million acres (18 percent);
  • United Kingdom, over 1.5 million acres (7 percent); and
  • Germany, almost 1.4 million acres (6 percent).

The proportions of foreign-owned agricultural land to all privately owned agricultural land by state:

  • 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 (AFIDA). The law was created to establish a nationwide system for the collection of information pertaining to foreign ownership in U.S. agricultural land. The AFIDA regulation requires foreign investors who acquire, transfer or hold an interest (other than a security interest) in U.S. agricultural land to report such holdings and transactions to the secretary of agriculture on an AFIDA Report Form FSA-153. The data gained from these disclosures is used in the preparation of an annual report to Congress.

Read the report, titled "Foreign Holdings of U.S. A