WABASH, Ind. — Who’s buying farmland? That is a question that Halderman Real Estate and Farm Management agents have had to answer more than once in the last few months.
“We’ve had people call in the late summer and this fall and ask — are you letting Chinese or Russians buy the farms?” said Halderman Vice President Pat Karst.
Current federal law does not restrict the amount of private agricultural land that can be owned by foreign entities or individuals.
However, the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act of 1978 requires foreign entities or individuals who buy, sell or gain interest in U.S. agricultural land to disclose those holdings and transactions to the U.S. Department of Agriculture directly or through the Farm Service Agency.
The most recent AFIDA report, as of Dec. 31, 2019, showed that of the 19,752,052 acres of privately-held agricultural land in Indiana, 324,012 acres, or 1.6%, was owned by foreign investors.
In Illinois, of the 30,536,400 acres of privately-held agricultural land, 635,395 acres, or 2.1%, was owned by foreign investors.
“We really don’t ask their nationality, but, no, the investors who are buying farms are people with some tie to farm real estate. They are looking for a place to invest money that is not the stock market,” Karst said.
And it’s farmers more so than investors who are buying farmland, especially when it comes to private sales.
“Land that is being bought at auctions shows that about half of that land is going to investors and half is going to farmers,” Karst said.
“But that’s just the farms that sell at auctions. There are a lot of farms that are selling privately right now and those are almost exclusively going to farmers.”
Karst said a recent meeting of Halderman’s team from their eastern territory, including the eastern side of the state and Ohio, confirmed that farmers continue to be the primary buyers.
“One of the questions posed was ‘who’s buying farmland?’ Their thoughts were that about 75% of the land that’s being sold now is staying in farmers’ hands and about 25% is being purchased by investors,” Karst said.