Foreign investors with an interest in agricultural lands in the United States are required to report their holdings and any transactions to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.
Any foreign person who acquires or transfers any interest, other than a security interest, in agricultural land in the United States is required by law to report the transaction no later than 90 days after the date of the acquisition or transfer.
The required action can be done by filing Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act reports with the Farm Service Agency office that maintains reports for the county where the land is located.
Failure to file a report, filing a late report or filing an inaccurate report can result in a penalty with fines up to 25 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land.
For AFIDA purposes, agricultural land is defined as any land used for farming, ranching or timber production if the tracts total 10 acres or more.
Disclosure reports are also required when there are changes in land use. For example, reports are required when land use changes from nonagricultural to agricultural or from agricultural to nonagricultural.
When the AFIDA was signed into law in 1978, the reporting requirement was adopted as part of the same legislation. Data gained from these disclosures is used in the preparation of periodic reports to the president and Congress concerning the effect of such holdings upon family farms and rural communities in the United States.
Foreign investors must also file a report when there is a change in the status of ownership such as owner changes from foreign to non-foreign, from non-foreign to foreign or from foreign to foreign.
For more information regarding AFIDA and FSA programs, contact the local FSA office or online at fsa.usda.gov. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
Bill Harmon is executive director of the Marion County FSA office.