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March 9, 2023
By Drew ViguetNational Agricultural Law CenterU of A System Division of Agriculture
Download related PHOTO
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — When it comes to foreign ownership of agricultural land in the
United States, legislatures at both the state and federal levels are asking “how much
is too much?”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency, foreign ownership and investments in U.S. agricultural land have increased to more
than 40 million acres, an increase of almost 36 percent in foreign-owned farmland
“Foreign ownership of agricultural land has emerged as arguably the single most active
issue at the state and federal government levels, with more than half the states in
the country proposing some kind of restriction on foreign ownership since Jan. 1,”
Micah Brown, staff attorney at the National Agricultural Law Center, said. “This emerging
interest in restricting foreign investments in U.S. land, especially agricultural
land, is partly due to a Chinese-owned company purchasing more than 130,000 acres
near a U.S. Air Force base in Texas. Another transaction that raised concerns among
some lawmakers is the purchase of 300 acres near an Air Force base in North Dakota
by the Chinese company Fefang Group."
Brown, who specializes in agricultural finance and credit issues at the NALC, including
foreign ownership of agricultural land, recently spoke at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 99th Annual Agricultural Outlook Forum. He presented the session “State Restrictions
on Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land and Recent State Proposals.” Information
on the event, as well as presentation slides and recordings of the sessions, can be
“Some state foreign ownership proposals seek to restrict certain countries, such as
China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia,” Brown noted in his presentation. He also said
that there are fourteen states that currently restrict foreign ownership of farmland
within their state to some degree.
In 2023, the Arkansas legislature has considered four proposals — HB 1255; HB 1479; SB 340; SB 383 — that seek to restrict certain foreign investments in agricultural land. Specifically,
HB 1478 would restrict acquisitions of agricultural land by governmental entities
of China and companies headquartered in China, while SB 340 and SB 383 seek to restrict
foreign investments of governments and entities from several different countries,
such as China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria.
There is no federal law restricting foreign individuals, business entities, or foreign
governments from acquiring or holding U.S. agricultural land, but Congress is considering
proposals that seek to restrict certain foreign investments in farmland, such as the
Promoting Agriculture Safeguards and Security Act — the PASS Act of 2023. If enacted,
the PASS Act would require the president to prohibit certain foreign investments in
U.S. agriculture, including acquisitions of businesses engaged in agriculture and
land used in agriculture.
“The NALC covers, on a daily basis, many issues important to the agricultural industry,
but foreign ownership of agricultural land has definitely risen to the top in 2023,”
NALC Director Harrison Pittman said. “Micah has emerged as a leading national expert
on the topic, providing invaluable information to legislators, states’ farm bureaus,
attorneys, and many others around the country.”
In January, Brown presented a National Agricultural Law Center webinar on foreign
ownership. The recording of the webinar, “Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land:
Federal & State Legislative Update,” is available online on the NALC website. He has also developed the NALC’s Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land: FAQs and Resource Library, highlighting state laws, AFIDA, federal proposals, and more.
For updates on foreign ownership of agricultural land and other agricultural law developments,
subscribe free of charge to The Feed, the NALC’s newsletter highlighting recent legal developments facing agriculture,
which publishes twice a month.
For information about the National Agricultural Law Center, visit nationalaglawcenter.org or follow @Nataglaw on Twitter. The National Agricultural Law Center is also on Facebook and LinkedIn.
The National Agricultural Law Center serves as the nation’s leading source of agricultural
and food law research and information. The NALC works with producers, state and federal
policymakers, Congressional staffers, attorneys, land grant universities, and many
others to provide objective, nonpartisan agricultural and food law research and information
to the nation’s agricultural community.
The NALC is a unit of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and
works in close partnership with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, National Agricultural
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. The Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system through the Agricultural
Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service.The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal
access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to
participate or need materials in another format, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org as
soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.
Media contact:Drew Viguet Communications & Special Projects CoordinatorNational Agricultural Law Centerdviguet@uark.edu