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USDA report shows foreign-owned land holdings rising in Oklahoma

A tractor tills the soil among wind turbines in Oklahoma.
Alice Welch
A tractor tills the soil among wind turbines in Oklahoma.

Foreign-owned land holdings increased in Oklahoma and across the nation in 2022, according to the latest report on land ownership from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Under the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act, people in other countries who own or lease agricultural land must file a yearly summary to USDA. The report is made up of those filings.

For the past few years, Oklahoma has seen growth in foreign holdings of agriculture and non-agriculture land. In Oklahoma, the USDA data shows land holdings by foreign investors increased by 119,617 acres in 2022 over 2021.

Out of Oklahoma's nearly 44 million acres, there are 1.7 million acres of land held by foreign owners, according to the report.

Of that acreage, the report shows Canadian investors own the most with almost 897,000 acres, followed by Italian investors with 560,082 acres.

Texas, Maine, Colorado, Alabama and Michigan are the top states with foreign-owned or leased land. The top states seeing the largest increase of foreign agricultural land purchases are Colorado, Alabama, Michigan, South Carolina and Louisiana.

Canadian and European investors also held most of the foreign land in the nation. Investigate Midwest reported last month many companies in Canada and Europe bought or leased land to build wind and solar farms.

U.S. policymakers have focused on land owned by Chinese companies and individuals. This year, the USDA included a section in the report on Chinese investment in U.S. agricultural land.

Chinese investors own or lease land across the nation and make up less than 1% of the foreign-hold agricultural acres, according to the report. In Oklahoma, Smithfield Foods is the only Chinese investor mentioned. The company owns land in Beaver, Ellis and Harper counties.

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Anna Pope