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Kobach calls for ban on ‘foreign ownership’ of agricultural land | Deal

More than 600 acres of farmland in Chase and Greenwood counties would be unlike any other if a proposal from the Kansas attorney general becomes law.

Kris Kobach said in a statement Thursday that he will offer legislation to “ban foreign ownership of land” statewide.

Property in four counties in major metropolitan areas would be exempt.

The Kansas Reflector quoted Kobach as saying he is concerned about “primarily Chinese interests who are buying up large amounts of farmland, in an apparent effort to gain control of an ever-increasing share of our food supply.”

The United States Department of Agriculture keeps track of them. Its latest land holdings report shows that nearly 1.2 million acres in Kansas were owned by individuals outside the United States at the end of 2021. That amount increased by 65,256 acres during 2021.

But it also indicates that the most identifiable outside landowner in the state is Italy, with nearly 389,000 acres. The “everyone else” category, which could include China, owns more than 414,000 acres.

USDA annual reports show that a single 163-acre parcel of land in Chase County is owned by a Netherlands-based company. It was purchased in 2008.

Greenwood County has a 450-acre lot outside the United States that it purchased in 2017. It is listed under the “all others” category. This means that the property is in countries other than Canada, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK.

Under the Kansas Senate bill, those two parcels could only be sold to US citizens.

The latest USDA report shows no outside land holdings in Lyon County.

That 2021 report lists Kansas among four states that had “a strong ban” on international farmland ownership between 2012-17. It extended beyond the land “to include all immovable property”.

But the National Agricultural Law Center notes that current Kansas law allows “commercial entities” to own agricultural land. Beginning January 1, such farms must submit regular reports to the Secretary of State for tracts greater than 10 acres.

International owners account for 2.4 percent of private farmland in Kansas, the USDA report says.

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