Wisconsin legislation would restrict foreign land ownership

A bill in the Wisconsin State Senate would tighten restrictions on foreign land ownership.

Farmer and Senator Rob Stafsholt from New Richmond tells Brownfield Senate Bill 348 would stop large future acquisitions of ag land by foreign buyers. “Right now, there already is a law that says how many that can be, and that’s 640 acres currently, but under this proposed bill that I have, it would drop it way down to 50.”

Stafsholt says when researching the issue, he thought foreign entities shouldn’t own any acres, but some agricultural stakeholders said that would create a different problem. “Some of those folks come over here and they buy a small plot of land and then set up a distribution house so they can ship them (ag products) out for our farmers to be able to use and they had some concerns that if we set it to zero, that would disrupt the distribution chain and how things work.”

Stafsholt’s legislation would also move the acreage enforcement from the Department of Justice to the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection where there are already agents in the field.

The bill would not be retroactive, so it would not force current foreign land owners to sell land but going forward, foreign land buyers would have four years to divest any excess acreage from a land purchase or forfeit it to the state.

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