NPR reports that foreign investors have doubled the amount of American farmland they own in this century:
When the stock market tanked during the last recession, foreign investors began buying up big swaths of U.S. farmland. And because there are no federal restrictions on the amount of land that can be foreign-owned, it’s been left up to individual states to decide on any limitations.
It’s likely that even more American land will end up in foreign hands, especially in states with no restrictions on ownership. With the median age of U.S. farmers at 55, many face retirement with no prospect of family members willing to take over. The National Young Farmers Coalition anticipates that two-thirds of the nation’s farmland will change hands in the next few decades.
“Texas is kind of a free-for-all, so they don’t have a limit on how much land can be owned,” say’s Ohio Farm Bureau’s Ty Higgins, “You look at Iowa and they restrict it — no land in Iowa is owned by a foreign entity” [Renee Wilde, “‘American Soil’ Is Increasingly Foreign Owned,” NPR: All Things Considered, 2019.05.27].
The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting calculated in 2014 that folks from outside the United States owned 27.3 million acres of American farmland. That’s just about 3% of our 915 million acres of productive land. That’s like owning all of Virginia, or owning Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont, and almost half of Massachusetts. (If I were buying states, I’d take the latter deal: those six and a half smaller states have 40 Electoral College votes; Virginia has just 13.)
SDCL Chapter 43-2A prohibits alien ownership of South Dakota agricultural land. Nonetheless, according to the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, people from outside the United States own 121,705 acres of South Dakota farmland. That’s less than one percent of our 42 million acres of farmland.
Come of the biggest foreign holders of South Dakota farmland are corn or hog farmers but wind farmers, like our friends from Spain and Italy.
|country of owners||acres|
|IRAN (ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF)||44|
|KOREA, REPUBLIC OF||43|
|VIRGIN ISLANDS (BRITISH)||306|
Note that this 2014 list doesn’t show any farmland held in South Dakota by Chinese-owned Smithfield Foods. Our Chinese friends do own 146,000 acres of U.S. farmland.
Related Reading: John Tsitrian notes that the Chinese are eager to buy land to plant soybeans to compensate for the Trump tariffs… and the Russians are eager to sell it to them
I trust foreign owners way more than I trust Trump’s supporters. Trump has ordered scientific research altered. Maybe if enough land is owned by capitalists, who know first hand about the good prices and rewards of Dem social programs we’ll progress more quickly.
It’s interesting that there are 44 Iranian acres in SD. The other buyers aren’t surprising, but why so many Spanish acres?
If “alien” purchase is illegal, and I assume we’re not talking about Neptunians, how did those nations come into possession of any SD land? Shadow buyers? $ crossing greasy SDGOP palms? (Suddenly I’m thinking of the “Les Miserables” innkeeper in “Master of the House!)
Hmm, what are the iranians doing on their 44 acres?
The Spaniards own the Tatanka Wind Farm in McPherson County. The Iranian holdings are all owned by the same person, one Abdol Samad Barari, who owns one nine-acre plot in Clay County and two plots totaling 35 acres in Custer County.
I hope Barari is a good farmer/rancher.
As Cory said, when the first Madrasa is built (maybe on Mr. Barari’s land) the taxpayer’s funding of religious schools may finally be scrutinized.