According to a report from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (DAG) Farm Service Agency shared by Just the News, foreign parties acquired an additional 3.4 million acres of U.S. soil in 2022.

“In total, foreign parties held more than 43.4 million acres, of which 48% was forest land, 28% cropland, 21% pasture and other agricultural land, and 2% non-agricultural land,” Just the News reports.

Foreign ownership of American farmland has become a hotly-contested topic in Congress and state legislatures this year.

Many public servants stated allowing foreign entities to own American farmland presents a national security risk.

Reuters noted the biggest increases were in Colorado, Michigan, and Alabama.

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In total, foreign investors hold about 3.4% of all privately held agricultural land in the U.S.

DTN Progressive Farmer reports:

Foreign investment in U.S. agricultural land has become more attractive in the past six-plus years. Since 2017, foreign land holdings in the U.S. have increased between 2.4 million acres and more than 3.4 million acres annually. In the five years before 2017, foreign land acquisitions averaged around 600,000 acres per year.

States with most foreign-owned land (rounded):

Texas, 5.4 million acres

Maine, 3.5 million acres

Colorado, 2.5 million acres

States with largest foreign agricultural land purchases in 2022:

Colorado, 557,000 acres

Alabama, 514,000 acres

Michigan, 461,000 acres

Timber or forest land makes up nearly 21 million acres, or 48.3% of the foreign-interest land, followed by crop land at 12.28 million acres, or 28.3%, and pasture at 9.2 million acres, or 21.3%.

Over the past year, Congress has moved to ban ownership by certain countries, including China, Russia, North Korea and Iran, though those bills have not passed into law. Congress also has sought to change how USDA collects its data on foreign ownership and provide better USDA reporting on the issue.

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

The outlet also stated China’s holdings account for approximately 350,000 acres, less than 1% of foreign-held agricultural land.

However, lawmakers have expressed concerns about Chinese-owned agricultural land near U.S. military installations.

Per Just the News:

Purchases of American land — especially those plots near U.S. military installations — by Chinese-based companies has prompted particular concerns from lawmakers around the nation. The Washington Post reported that lawmakers in 33 states have introduced 81 bills this year that would prohibit the Chinese government, some China-based businesses and many Chinese citizens from buying agricultural land or property near military bases.

The DAG report noted that Chinese investors own less than 1% of foreign-held agricultural land, amounting to 349,442 acres. The top two Chinese companies were Brazos Highland properties, LP and Murphy Brown LLC (Smithfield Foods). It did, however, assert that “the acreage associated with China—or any other country discussed in this report—should be interpreted as a minimum,” since it categorized foreign ownership by the primary shareholding company’s home country.

The bulk of Chinese land holdings were in Texas, North Carolina, Missouri, Utah, and Virginia.

“There were no filings directly by the government of China,” the report stated.

Concerns about Chinese land purchases, however, have prompted action from state governments fearing Chinese-held land could prove a staging ground for espionage. Florida, for instance, barred the sale of land in the Sunshine State to Chinese citizens in May of this year, albeit with limited exceptions.

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