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Published August 14, 2010, 12:00 AM

Latest report shows 1.7 percent of U.S. agricultural land owned by foreigners

A new publication released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides the latest information regarding the amount of U.S. agricultural land that is owned by foreign persons.

By: Wes Nelson, FSA executive director, West Central Tribune

A new publication released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides the latest information regarding the amount of U.S. agricultural land that is owned by foreign persons.

There is approximately 22.2 million acres of agricultural land in the United States. As of Feb. 28, 2009, foreigners had an ownership interest, either partial or whole, in 1.7 percent of all privately held agricultural land, and 0.98 percent of all land in the United States. This represents a 1.3 million-acre increase from 2008.

Of the land owned by foreigners, the report found that 59 percent consisted of forest land, 14 percent cropland, and 27 percent was pasture and other agricultural land.

Canadians hold the largest amount of land with 7.7 million acres, or 34 percent of the total amount owned by foreigners.

Other countries having the largest ownership interest included the Netherlands, with almost 3.9 million acres or 17 percent; the United Kingdom, with more than 1.5 million acres or 7 percent; and Germany, with almost 1.4 million acres or 6 percent.

Maine had the largest amount of foreign held U.S. agricultural land with 2.82 million acres, or 15.7 percent of the privately held agricultural land in the state.

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

Other states having the largest proportions of foreign held land included Washington – 7.6 percent; Nevada – 5.2 percent; and Alabama – 5.1 percent.

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 of U.S. agricultural land.

Foreigners who have purchased or sold agricultural land are required to report such transactions to the USDA’s Farm Service Agency within 90 days of transaction.

For reporting purposes, USDA defines agricultural land as any tract of land more than 10 acres in size and currently devoted to farming, ranching, forestry or timber production.

Foreign investors who own or have an interest in 10 or fewer acres are not required to report such transactions unless annual proceeds from the sale of agricultural products from those acres exceed $1,000.

To view the entire report, titled “Foreign Holdings of U.S. Agricultural Land,” go to the Farm Service Agency website at: www.fsa.usda.gov.

$50 million available for new public access program

Officials from the USDA have announced a new program that will encourage owners and operators of privately owned farm and forest land to voluntarily provide public access to land for the enjoyment of wildlife-dependent recreation, including hunting and fishing.

During the 2010 fiscal year, up to $50 million is being made available through the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program. Funds will be provided via competitive grants that will only be available for state and tribal governments.

Grant funding may be used to expand existing public access programs, create new public access programs, or provide incentives to improve wildlife habitat on enrolled lands.

Twenty-six states have public access programs for hunting, fishing and other related activities. Such programs provide rental payments and other incentives to landowners who allow the public to hunt, fish, or otherwise recreate on their land.

A state’s grant amount will be reduced by 25 percent if opening dates for migratory bird hunting in the states are not consistent for residents and non-residents.

July corn and soybean prices increase

According to the Minnesota Agricultural Statistics Service, prices received by Minnesota corn farmers during July averaged $3.60 per bushel, up 21 cents from the average price for June.

July soybean prices also increased to an average of $9.55 per bushel, up 44 cents from the previous month.

Hog prices averaged $59.50 per hundredweight, a decrease of 40 cents from June’s average price.

July beef prices averaged $85.40 per hundredweight, down 40 cents from the previous month.

Minnesota milk prices during July averaged $15.50 per hundredweight, up 60 cents from the June average price.

Wes Nelson is executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.

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