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This land is our land, this land is your land

By Andrew Joseph,

We’re number one in US farmland investment, but Canada doesn’t know what foreign powers own what or how much in Canadian ag real estate.
Conversely, its neighbours down south in the US know who owns its ag lands.

A recently published USDA Farm Service Agency report “Foreign Holdings of U.S. Agricultural Land” noted that through end of year 2019, foreign investors now hold about 2.7 percent of US ag lands.

According to the report, the US has just under 900 million acres of total farmland and that private entities (not states or the federal government) own and manage roughly 445-million acres of forestland. shows that US farmland sits at approximately 896-million acres, down from 2014 levels of 913-million acres.

As of 2019 data—the most recent results available—the 2.7 percent of foreign investment in American ag land consists of least 35.2-million acres, or approximately the size of the state of Iowa.

Canada remains the largest foreign investor in the US ag land, owning about 10.5-million acres, while the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom own a combined 11.7-million acres.

Other countries have a hand in the remaining 13.6-million acres, such as China accounting for just 192,000 acres of farmland.

Data provided by StatsCan shows that from 2016 through 2020, Canadian farm land and building values per acre have continued to increase to an average of $3,393, with Ontario leading the way at a value of $11,815 value per acre.

Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba remain under the national average, but still have steadily increased over the indicated five-year period, currently sitting at $2,999, $1,595, and $2,269 value per acre, respectively.

Attempting to determine foreign investment numbers in Canadian ag lands is apparently a difficult proposition—it’s indeterminate—but indications are that Canada has made it more difficult for foreign investors to land-grab due to heavy restrictions.  

A survey of farmers in southern Ontario in 2013 showed about one percent of land rented by them was foreign owned. As of 2021, unlike the US, Canada has no firm national data regarding foreign investment in Canadian ag property.

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