Publications: Ownership of Agricultural Land


Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land: A Legislative Roadmap

Micah Brown Staff Attorney, National Agricultural Law Center

Ownership of U.S. land, specifically agricultural lands, by foreign persons or entities has been an issue that traces to the origins of the United States.[1] In most states, foreign persons and entities have the same property rights as the citizens of those states. Other states restrict or significantly limit foreign ownership of agricultural land while allowing for at least some level of ownership of non-agricultural land. Some states restrict foreign ownership and investments in all real estate. Today, approximately fourteen states[2] specifically forbid or limit nonresident aliens, foreign businesses and corporations, and/or foreign governments from acquiring or holding an interest in private agricultural land within the boundaries of their state.

This resource does not advocate for or against the enactment of laws that restrict foreign ownership of agricultural land. The information provided in this fact sheet is for educational purposes only. This resource is meant to provide general information only and does not constitute any legal advice offered by the National Agricultural Law Center, nor act as a substitute for legal advice and counsel. Download this article Posted February 21, 2023, updated 9/22/2023.

Market Concentration, Horizontal Consolidation, and Vertical Integration in the Hog and Cattle Industries: Taking Stock of the Road Ahead

Harrison M. Pittman Research Assistant Professor of Law National Agricultural Law Center

The level of market concentration in virtually every segment of the agricultural sector in the United States has increased significantly over the past several decades. The number of firms and actors within the sector, including producers, input suppliers, output processors, and food retailers, has decreased as their size has increased.  The hog and cattle industries are two portions of the agricultural sector that have been the focus of recent litigation due to market concentration concerns brought about by horizontal consolidation and vertical integration.  The Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 (PSA) and anti-corporate farming laws, both of which have been the basis of recent judicial activity, are two legal mechanisms implicated in the debate over market concentration in the hog and cattle industries. This article reviews the status of the PSA and corporate farming laws in light of the decisions in London v. Fieldale Farms, Corp., Pickett v. Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., South Dakota Farm Bureau, Inc. v. Hazeltine, and Smithfield Foods, Inc. v. Miller.  The article also examines the historical development and current structure of the hog and cattle industries and presents a brief overview of the PSA and corporate farming laws.    Download this article Posted:  August 14, 2005

The Constitutionality of Corporate Farming Laws In the Eighth Circuit

Harrison M. Pittman Staff Attorney The National Agricultural Law Center

Several states have enacted statutory or constitutional provisions that limit the power of corporations to engage in farming or agriculture, or to acquire, purchase, or otherwise obtain land that is used or usable for agricultural production.  Such legal provisions are commonly referred to as corporate farming laws.  Most corporate farming laws are enacted as statutes rather than constitutional amendments.  Proponents of corporate farming laws argue that these laws are necessary to protect family farms from the negative economic consequences of competition with corporate-owned or corporate-operated agricultural operations.  Opponents of corporate farming laws argue that these laws are unconstitutional and an impediment to a vibrant free trade economy among the states.   Download this article. Posted:  June 14, 2004