- Is there any foreign-held ag land near you? Search our database to find out.
- Foreign investment in U.S. farmland on the rise. Read more.
- Restrictions on foreign ownership of agricultural land vary by state. Read more about trends in regulations and find your state in our state-by-state breakdown of laws.
- The sale of timber land went mostly to a handful of foreign investors. Read more.
Each state has different laws regulating foreign ownership of agricultural land. Here’s a state-by-state breakdown of current and former laws:
- Requires the registration of foreign-owned businesses if they want to conduct business in the state
- Foreign corporations also must file a copy of their articles
§S 10.05.225, .615, .702 (1962 & Supp. 1982).
- Repealed in 1988: It used to require corporations to report the name and address, percentage of outstanding shares and a description of the nature of the relationship between each corporation and its alien affiliates on their articles of incorporation, applications for certificates of authority and biennial reports.
- Corporations must file a notice of change if there is a change in alien affiliates.
- No more than 160 acres of public agricultural land or 640 acres of state grazing land can be purchased by an individual, corporation or association. Corporations that aren’t registered to conduct business in the state also can’t purchase state land.
Ark. Stat. Ann. §§ 77-2209, -2210, 77-2203, -2204, -2211:
- The revised code incorporated these statutes into the Arkansas Agricultural Foreign Investment Act, listed below
- Any foreign party (person, foreign-owned business, foreign agent/fiduciary/trustee) that acquires interest in agricultural land must register with the county clerk in the county where the land is within 60 days. Acquiring land in repayment of a debt/mortgage is permitted for foreign entities. They still have to register with the county clerk though.
- Violations should be reported to the attorney general. If the court finds the land in violation, it must be divested within 2 years. Also, the court can then charge a fee of up to 25% the market value of the land. For a resident alien that ceases to be a resident, they have two years to register or the enforcement/punishment is the same as above.
- Agricultural land acquired for non-farming purposes is not subject to the registration requirements.
- Protects the rights of aliens to own and inherit property
- Foreign businesses must obtain a certificate of authority from the secretary of state before conducting business in the state
California had an alien land law, restricting noncitizen land ownership that was repealed in 1952.
- Only citizens, or people with intent to become citizens or people whose country grants reciprocal rights for U.S. citizens, can lease public land or obtain a prospecting permit. This also applies to corporations in which less than 90% of its ownership falls under the above provisions.
GA Code Ann. §16-14-15:
- Repealed in 2015; required alien corporations to have a registered office and agent in the state
- As long as their country of origin is at peace with the U.S., aliens have the same land ownership/purchasing rights as citizens
- A person can’t purchase public land for farming unless they’ve been a resident of the state for 3 years.
- Public lands can only be purchased by people who are U.S. citizens or have declared their intention to become U.S. citizens
- Any foreign person (this includes corporations) who acquires or purchases agricultural land must report the purchase/acquisition to the Director of Agriculture within 90 days
- The Director of Agriculture can charge up to 25% the market value of the land
Ind. Code Ann. §§ 32-1:
- Repealed in 2002; used to cap the number of acres that noncitizens could own at 320
Iowa Code §§ 567: Transferred to Chapter 91 in 2002
- Nonresident aliens and foreign businesses can’t own or purchase agricultural land; there are a few exceptions
Id. § 558.43: Repealed in 2016
- Definitions of agricultural land and foreign business
- A nonresident alien, foreign business or foreign gov’t cannot acquire or purchase land in the state (unless it was acquired before 1980)
- Agricultural land acquired by devise or descent; taken to secure a debt; to collect a debt (must be disposed of within 2 years); acquired for research or experimental use; testing, developing or producing seeds; lessees of land (leases can’t be for more than 12 years); interest in land up to 320 acres for immediate or pending use (up to 5 years from the date of purchase/acquisition) other than farming (pending development it can be used for farming in certain circumstances if its leased to a permissible party)
- If land is acquired by devise or descent or the owner becomes a nonresident, they must divest within 2 years
- Owners have to report land ownership/purchase within 60 days of acquisition to the secretary of state; owners must report before March 31 each year on ag land pending non-farming use
- If in violation, the secretary of state reports to the attorney general who notifies the courts of the county in which the land is located. No more than $2000 in fines.
- All corporations have to report acquisition of agricultural land over 10 acres to the secretary of state, or they can be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor.
- “No corporation, trust, limited liability company, limited partnership or corporate partnership, other than a family farm corporation, authorized farm corporation, limited liability agricultural company, family farm limited liability agricultural company, limited agricultural partnership, family trust, authorized trust or testamentary trust shall, either directly or indirectly, own, acquire or otherwise obtain or lease any agricultural land in this state.” The restrictions provided in this section do not apply to the following:
- Land taken to secure or collect a debt (must be divested within 10 years);
- ag land acquired as a gift (grant or devise);
- acreage necessary for non-farming operations (this land can only be leased for farming purposes to family farm corporation, authorized farm corporations or family trusts);
- feedlots and poultry/rabbit confinements; timber/forest/nursery/sod;
- educational research or experimental or scientific farming;
- some swine facilities and dairy production, depending on the county;
- Civil penalty of no more than $50,000 and requirement to divest within one year; enforced by the attorney general or the district or county attorney
- Repealed in 1996; used to detail reporting requirements for ownership of ag land by foreign investors
- Repealed in 1989; used to put limits on business and holdings of real estate
- Aliens who intend to become naturalized citizens have the same property rights as citizens;
- aliens who don’t become a citizen within 8 years have their property escheated to the state;
- this does not apply to foreign corporations that have been licensed to do business in the state of Kentucky
- attempted repeal 2006 KY H.B. 118, 1/3/2006: To give alien residents AND nonresidents the same property rights (wasn’t introduced in the Senate)
- Alien residents can own personal property for the purpose of residence or for the purpose of business trade or manufacture; alien nonresidents still don’t have property rights
- Individuals can’t lease more than 640 acres from the state
- Foreign partnerships must file for registry with the secretary of state to enjoy the same rights as Louisiana corporations
- Corporations and partnerships that acquire agricultural land have to submit an annual report to the commissioner within 90 days of acquisition (they can submit their federal AFIDA report)
- The max fine for not reporting or inaccurately reporting is $50 a day
- Aliens who aren’t enemies of the state have the same property rights as citizens
- Foreign corporations have to register with the state before doing any interstate or foreign business in the state
- A penalty of $5 and $1 for every 10 days in violation of the registration requirement
- Foreign corporations must file a certificate with the secretary of state within 10 days of transacting business
- Aliens (anyone who is not a permanent resident or citizen) of the U.S. and non-American corporations are forbidden from acquiring agricultural land. 80% of each class of stock issued must be owned by citizens or permanent residents.
- Permanent residents who own ag land have to file a report with the commissioner within 30 days of purchase and file an annual report (an alien physically absent from the U.S. for 6 months in a 12-month-period is NOT considered a permanent resident)
- inherited land or land held or acquired upon collection of a debt. This land needs to be disposed of within 3 years; aliens whose land rights are secured by a treaty; timber land and mining (pending development of ag land for these purposes, the land can be leased to a family farm corp., etc.); land used for experimental purposes or research; pipeline operations (less than 40 acres); also, special exception for people with a nonimmigrant treaty investment visa before 2003 (includes some easements for wind farms)
- The commissioner can order divestment within a year
- For property held before June 1, 1981, corporations/people can continue to hold the land but they have to file a report every year
- Resident aliens can acquire and inherit land.
- Nonresident aliens cannot acquire land.
- To collect or secure a debt (20-year limit on holding land); citizens of Syria or Lebanon may inherit property; acquiring 320 acres for the purpose of industrial development and 5 acres for residential development. Does not apply to corporations with alien ownership.
Id. § 29-1-75 (repealed: effective July 1, 2019; Justia says 2016, but the code on Lexis Nexis says 2019; Lexis Nexis links don’t take you to specific sections)
- Public land cannot be acquired by corporations or nonresident aliens, except for 320 acres for industrial development or 5 for residential
Chapter 442 (Titles and Conveyance of Real Estate), Section 442.560 to 442.591
Revised Statutes: August 28, 2016
Major revisions as result of SB 12 (Munzlinger) in 2015 (442.571 and 442.586)
- Instead of requiring the director of the dept. of ag to approve sales, purchasers can now proceed with sales/transfers by simply filling out a W-9. This is a bit confusing because 442.592 still details a reporting requirement within 60 days for ownership or sale/transfer.
- non-residents/citizens and corporations created outside of the U.S. can acquire/own/hold/devise real estate by grant, purchase, devise or descent. Agricultural land is the only exception.
- The provisions of 442.560 to 442.591 don’t apply to agricultural land located in counties which border the state of Oklahoma, if the land was owned by the person/company prior to Jan. 1, 1995
- “Agricultural land” is defined as land in Missouri that is more than five acres which can support agricultural enterprise without significant changes to the character of the land. If two pieces of land under the same owner are adjacent to one another, they count as a single tract of land. “Foreign business” is defined as any business in which a controlling interest is owned by nonresidents.
- nonresident/foreign businesses can’t acquire agricultural land if total aggregate nonresident/foreign ownership exceeds 1 percent of state agricultural acreage. Also, sales and transfers only need to be submitted to the director of the dept. of ag for review if the purchaser doesn’t sign a completed W-9 form. Otherwise, acquisitions through grant, purchase, devise, descent, or otherwise must be submitted to make sure the 1 percent restriction is met.
- Leasing becomes ownership when the person has leased the land for 10 years or signs a renewable lease that has the option of leasing the land for 10 years or more
- None of this applies to resident aliens. They have 2 years to divest if they cease to be resident aliens.
- This also doesn’t apply to someone wanting to use agricultural land for non-farming purposes or someone leasing to a family farm unit/corporation.
- “No person may hold agricultural land as an agent, trustee, or other fiduciary for an alien or foreign business in violation of sections 442.560 to 442.592, provided, however, that no security interest in such agricultural land shall be divested or invalidated by such violation.” (not entirely sure what this means)
- Sales, transfers and ownership have to be reported to the director of the dept. of ag within 60 days, otherwise they may be fined up to 25% the fair market value of the land
- This restricts corporate farming. There are some exceptions, that are similar to most of the other state restrictions, such as swine facilities and experimental/research facilities
Id. §§ 77-2-306 to -307: 306-ammended and 307-repealed;
- used to prohibit noncitizens from purchasing state land
- Nonresident aliens’ rights to take property by succession or testamentary disposition dependent upon reciprocal rights by the country where they have citizenship
- Aliens and corporations not incorporated under Nebraska’s laws can’t acquire or hold land or real estate for more than 5 years. There are exceptions (land acquired by devise or descent)
- Land acquired by devise or descent by aliens must be sold within 5 years
- Any Nebraska corporations or any corporations doing business in the state can’t elect aliens as a majority on their board of directors or trustees
- Any corporation in violation of 76-406 shall be dissolved
- The county attorney in the county where the land is handles situations in which aliens/corporations are in violation of the law
- Corporations and aliens can acquire land in collection of a debt, but they have to get rid of it within 10 years
- Doesn’t apply to real estate in cities or villages or within 3 miles of cities or villages
- Details restrictions on any corporation acquiring land for farming or ranching; there are a few exceptions but, in general, corporations can’t acquire land for farming or ranching
- No trusts (other than a family trust) can own agricultural land in Nebraska
- Alien residents can own/acquire property in the same manner as citizens
- Aliens who are “friends” can acquire and own land
NM Const. Art. 2 § 22: repealed in 2006;
- only aliens eligible for citizenship could own land; also prohibited foreign corporations with majority of stock owned by aliens from owning land
- Nonresident aliens are not allowed take or acquire personal property if their country of citizenship doesn’t allow U.S. residents to acquire personal property
- Aliens have the same property rights as citizens
- People who aren’t citizens of the U.S. or Canada or permanent residents of the U.S. can’t acquire (directly or indirectly) interest in agricultural land unless:
- A treaty guarantees the right
- The person resides in North Dakota for at least 10 months out of every year
- The person actively participates in the operation of the ag land
- The agriculture land holding doesn’t exceed 640 acres and the ag land includes a dairy operation
- The above exceptions have reporting requirements: they must notify the agriculture commissioner within 30 days of acquisition and annually provide the commissioner with a list of addresses and dates where they resided in the previous year
- People who no longer meet the above exceptions have 24 months to dispose of their land
- Partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability companies, trustee or other business entities can’t acquire or hold the title of land unless the ultimate beneficiary is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- This and the other above provisions don’t apply to land acquired by devise, descent or in collection of a debt; if land is acquired in one of those ways, they have 3 years to get rid of it
- Also, it doesn’t apply to foreign corporations who acquire ag land for use as an industrial site; there are special provisions here
- The attorney general is responsible for enforcement; if the district court finds someone in violation, that person has a year to get rid of the land, otherwise it will be sold at public auction
- Farming and ranching by limited liability companies and corporations is prohibited; there are exceptions, and there are annual reporting requirements to the secretary of state for companies who fall under those exceptions. Corporations can amend their articles of incorporation to become a farming or ranching corporation, but they must comply with the provisions of the chapter.
- Nonresident aliens that acquire interest in real estate must file with the secretary of state (more than 3 acres or property value of more than $100,000)
- Also, corporations in which a nonresident alien acquires at least 10% of the stock/interest or any number of nonresident aliens acquires at least 40% of the stock/interest
- Violators are subject to no less than a $5000 fine; the fine shouldn’t exceed 25% the value of the real estate
- Non-U.S. citizens cannot acquire or own land; if they acquire by devise or descent, they have to dispose of it within 5 years. Corporations can’t buy, acquire, deal or trade in real estate unless it is in incorporated cities and towns. The exception is to secure a loan or collect a debt, and they must divest within 7 years
- Another exception: if the right is guaranteed by a treaty or if the person’s country of origin affords certain real estate rights to U.S. citizens
- Also: an exception for resident aliens or aliens who intend to become residents; if they cease to be residents, they have 5 years to divest
- Enforcement falls on the attorney general; he must give 30 days notice by mail of an intent to sue
- Corporations can’t hold land outside of an incorporated city or town
- owning, holding or taking real estate that is necessary for carrying out business for which any corporation has been lawfully formed in the state
- A title to real estate held as a security to indebtedness or real estate acquired upon collection of a debt
- Religious, educational, charitable and scientific corporations
- Between $50 and $500 or imprisonment between 30 days and 6 months
- Corporations holding land under the provisions of the section have to file a report with the office of the county clerk annually, or they are fined no more that $1000; this also provides a more detailed description of fines on land held in violation of this section
- Foreign corporations are not allowed to farm or ranch; a domestic corporation can be formed to farm or ranch though if they meet the following qualifications:
- research or feeding arrangements or livestock or poultry operations; swine operations; forestry; corporate purpose is charitable; fluid milk processing (http://law.justia.com/codes/oklahoma/2016/title-18/section-18-954/ )
- Violators have to pay no more than $500 and can be prosecuted in civil or criminal court
- Only citizens or persons who have applied for citizenship can purchase state land.
- aliens can hold and purchase up to 5000 acres
- Nonresident aliens or foreign gov’ts cannot acquire more than 100 acres of ag. land (unless acquired by devise or descent or as a security for indebtedness/collection of a debt)
- if acquired from one of the above provisions, they have 3 years to divest
- residents who cease to be resident have 3 years to divest
- The dept. of ag. monitors compliance through biannual AFIDA reports
- Aliens can take, hold, transmit and convey real estate in the same way as citizens.
Property Ownership by Aliens: S.C. Code §§ 27-13-10 to -40 (1976)
- Aliens and foreign-owned corporations can’t own more than 500,000 acres of land.
- Foreign corporations need to get an authority to transact business from the secretary of state
Alien Ownership of Agricultural Land: S.D. Comp. Laws Ann. § 43-2A-2-7
- Aliens are not allowed to acquire more than 160 acres of agricultural land, unless it’s inherited or “as a security held for indebtedness” or as secured by a treaty. If land is inherited, they have three years to sell it/give it away.
- Land in violation is forfeited to the state. The attorney general has 3 years to enforce that forfeiture. The AG monitors AFIDA reports biannually to look for violations.
- If agricultural land is purchased by a foreign corporation for non-farming purposes, the law does not apply. The land may not be used for farming pending development for non-farming purposes unless it is leased to a family farm unit, a family farm corporation or an authorized farm corporation.
Corporate Farming Restrictions: Id §§ 47-9A-1 to -22
- No corporation (foreign or domestic) can engage in farming or acquire farm real estate.
- Feeding poultry, dairy on agricultural lands or producing meat or eggs; some greenhouse operations; banks and trust companies; certain limited liability entities; encumbrance taken for security; lands acquired in collection of a debt; gifts to nonprofit corporations; farms for scientific, medical, research, or experimental purposes (only if sale is incidental); nurseries and seed farms; livestock feeding; family farm and authorized farm corporations;
- All corporations engaged in farming must file with a report with the secretary of state
- The attorney general enforces this law. Failing to file can incur a fine of up to $1000.
- foreign corporations must obtain a certificate of authority from the secretary of state before they can conduct business (which doesn’t necessarily include owning land)
Texas had laws restricting nonresident ownership of land, but they repealed them in the 1960s
Business Organizations Code(Title 1, Ch. 9, Sct. A):
- Any business not formed in the state of Texas must register to do business in the state
- foreign limited partnerships must register with the state to do business (simply owning land does not constitute doing business)
- Foreign businesses have to apply for the authority to operate in Vermont; this is also for domestic out-of-state businesses (these sorts of requirements exist in almost every state)
Va. Code S§ 3.1-22.22 to .27 (Supp. 1982):
- This was meant to mimic AFIDA reporting requirements, but on the state level; the code has been revised, and chapter 3.1 no longer exists
- Aliens (not enemies of the state) may, acquire, hold, and transmit real property
- A foreign corporation, limited liability company, business trust, limited partnership or registered limited liability partnership (i.e., organized or existing under the laws of a state or jurisdiction other than Virginia) may not transact business in Virginia until it obtains a certificate of authority or certificate of registration from the State Corporation Commission. (this does not necessarily include only owning land)
- Fine between $500-$5000; any proceedings commenced by a foreign company may be stayed by the court
- Had anti-immigration land laws on the books going back to 1886; they restricted the ability of immigrants, aliens and even their children to purchase and acquire land. In 1967, the laws were repealed and land rights for aliens were secured in Ch. 64.16.005
- Effective Jan. 1, 2016: Foreign businesses must deliver a foreign registration statement to the secretary of state
- Removed acreage limits on foreign investment in energy, mining, manufacturing and mercantile on 710.02.
Wis. Stat. Ann. § 710.02 (West 1981):
- Nonresident and foreign companies can’t own more than 640 acres. Also, restricts companies and trusts with more than 20% of their stock, securities or other indications of ownership held or owned by alien/foreign companies. This applies to land acquired from 1982 onward.
Exceptions as it relates to farmland:
- collected as part of the re-payment of a debt or inherited; the right is secured under a treaty; pipeline/railroad construction; mining (some)
- The land can be leased to a resident/U.S. business for ag or forestry and then the product can be sold to the nonresident/non-U.S. business land owner if the land is in the process of being converted for other permitted uses
- Anybody who has to report under AFIDA to the feds, also has to send a copy of the report to the Wisconsin Secretary of State along with a tax parcel number or full legal description of the land and any exceptions that apply to the land as well as a timetable for conversion (if applicable)
- Violators forfeit the land in excess of 640 acres (they get to choose which piece) to the state; failing to report incurs a fine of between $500 and $5000; enforced by the attorney general
- No more than 15 shareholders/beneficiaries; no more than 2 classes of shares; all shareholders have to be people, not businesses, etc.
- Inherited land or land received as payment for a debt that is sold/transferred within 5 years; land owned before 1974 (any expansions must be less than 20% of total land every 5 years); land acquired to meet pollution control req.; land leased to a resident/citizen; when farming isn’t the principle purpose of land use
- $1000 per violation
- Aliens can’t acquire property unless their home country allows U.S. nonresidents to acquire property. The only exception is one acre or less, used as a personal residence. Violators will be charged with a felony and up to $5000/5 years in the state penitentiary.
Repealed in 2001: Ch. 93, § 1
- These statutes were initially passed as anti-Japanese land laws in the 1940s
- Aliens can’t inherit land unless their country of citizenship allows U.S. citizen nonresidents to inherit land