Naveen Adusumilli, Tarver, Sarah
A USDA report says 1.4 million acres, or about 18% of the state’s total farm land was under foreign ownership in 2019, the latest year for which data is available. Foreign holdings of Louisiana land increased by 277,706 acres since 2015, with majority of holdings occurring in Vernon, LaSalle and Beauregard parishes. Over 88% of all foreign-owned Louisiana land, or 1.2 million acres, is in forestry production, according to the report. About 8% of foreign-land holdings is in crop production. Entities from Canada held 448,368 acres of land, which represented 31% of the state’s foreign land holdings. The Netherlands followed, accounting for 22% of foreign-held acreage and the Cayman Islands accounted for 16%.
Acreage of foreign landholdings could be underestimated considering data is from February 2019 and prior to the legalization of hemp production in Louisiana. Almost half a million acres were purchased by foreign investors in Oklahoma and Texas during 2020 and believed to be connected with marijuana production. “The medical marijuana business has driven these changes… as we didn’t have this level of outside purchases before the industry,” Frank Lucas said. Additionally, over 15 weather-related incidents have been declared by FEMA since summer of 2019, perhaps decreasing land-value and increasing buying opportunities for foreign investors.
Several other nations, whose ability to own land is a growing concern for legislators, do not own agricultural land in the state. Having no known records of their land holdings throughout the U.S., amendments for tightening reporting standards for foreign ownership in the U.S. agriculture sector are being proposed.
Interactive data at the parish level is available at https://www.datawrapper.de/_/zNQ4K/
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture