Foreigners invest in South Dakota farmland

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Congressman Dusty Johnson (RS.D.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are two of the politicians concerned about foreign ownership of farmland.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Congressional Research Service, as of November 2021, foreign investors owned 35.2 million or 2.7% of all private agricultural land in the United States in 2019. The number of acres owned by foreign investors , has grown by 2.5 million acres per year since 2015.

In a July 27 Twitter post, Johnson singled out Chinese investment.

“Chinese companies are buying more and more farmland in the US. Allowing this to continue could lead to serious food and national security concerns,” Johnson said on Twitter.

Grassley introduced the Farmland Security Act on July 27, which requires the USDA to report in real time all foreign investments in US farmland made in the previous year. It would also require the USDA to report the impact of foreign ownership on family farms, rural communities, and the domestic food supply.

In South Dakota, for foreign investment, Canadians own the most land as of December 31, 2020, according to the USDA. China is not listed as a separate country for investors.

According to the USDA, Canadians or Canadian investors own 123,850 acres of agricultural and non-agricultural land in the state. UK investors own 63,017 acres. Investors from the Netherlands own 4,300 acres, investors from Italy own 2,116 acres, and investors from Germany own 27,551 acres. Investors not from the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Canada or the United Kingdom own 136,108 acres.

That amounts to less than 1 percent of all agricultural land in the state, according to the USDA.

Data as of December 31, 2020 is the most recent available.

Foreign investors own 356,942 acres of farmland in South Dakota, according to the USDA.

There is no federal law that places limits on the amount of agricultural land that can be owned by foreign investors. Additionally, there is no single, uniform approach under state law for dealing with foreign ownership, according to the Congressional Research Service.

South Dakota has restrictions on foreign ownership of land that deal primarily with corporations, but there are exceptions, under SD Cod Laws §§ 43-2A-1 through 43-2A-7 and SD Cod Laws §§ 47-9A- 1 to 47 -9A-23

Minnesota, Iowa, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Hawaii are states that have banned foreign ownership of land in their state, according to the National Ag Law Center.

The USDA said 1.6 percent of Minnesota’s farmland is foreign-owned. This totaled 535,772 acres as of December 2020.

The percentage is the same in Iowa for 549,157 acres of farmland.

Here’s a breakdown of where the most common foreign investors own the most land by county in South Dakota. The USDA breakdown by county lists agricultural and non-agricultural land.

Canadian investors own 84,055 acres in Dewell County, according to the USDA. Dutch investors own 1,803 acres in Coddington County. Italian investors own 1,120 acres in Davison County. UK investors own 33,144 acres in Clark County. German investors own 2,396 acres in Sanborn County.

The group, classified as other investors, owns 36,791 acres in Hyde County.

Dewelle County has the most acres owned by foreign investors at 88,872, according to the USDA.

Chinese investment in farmland about 12 miles from the U.S. Air Force Base in Grand Forks, North Dakota, has some state and national politicians sharing concerns about foreign ownership and even how it relates to national security.

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