Hay bales

As 2020 presidential candidates jockey for position, interesting issues can arise and become a national topic of conversation seemingly overnight.

So was the case when potential 2020 Democratic nominee Elizabeth Warren spoke in Iowa about foreign companies buying American farmland. Suddenly Ty Higgins, Ohio Farm Bureau’s director of media relations, started receiving phone calls on a topic not related to water, trade or a wet spring for Ohio farmers.

Higgins told National Public Radio in a May interview that “once a foreign entity buys up however many acres they want, Americans might never be able to secure that land again. So, once we lose it, we may lose it for good.”

In Ohio, about half a million acres of farmland are owned by foreign investors — with Germany and the Netherlands leading in most land bought. China is another significant investor.

Higgins noted there is no federal restriction on foreign farmland purchases, so it is up to each individual state to come up with its own regulations. For example, it is restricted in Iowa, where no farmland is owned by foreign investors, whereas Higgins said in Texas it is a “free for all.”

In Ohio, there is voluntary registration by the foreign entity with the state, but nothing prohibiting those overseas from purchasing farmland.

The loss of farmland itself is of particular concern, Higgins said. “Every acre of productive farmland that is converted over to something other than agriculture is an acre of land that no longer produces food,” causing a ripple effect in the state’s economy and a potential hardship on rural communities. Higgins comments with NPR also were later included in a story done by Newsweek.

I'm eternally grateful for the support Ohio Farm Bureau scholarships provided in helping me turn my dreams into reality.
Bethany Starlin's avatar
Bethany Starlin

Hocking County Farm Bureau

Available scholarships
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
Matt Aultman's avatar
Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
With not growing up on a farm, I’d say I was a late bloomer to agriculture. I feel so fortunate that I found the agriculture industry. There are so many opportunities for growth.
Jenna Gregorich's avatar
Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
Mandy Way's avatar
Mandy Way

Way Farms

Business Solutions
Farm Bureau involvement has taught me how to grow my professional and leadership experience outside of the workforce and how to do that in a community-centric way.
Jaclyn De Candio's avatar
Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

Young Ag Professionals program
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
Austin Heil's avatar
Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
Mary Smallsreed's avatar
Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

Advocacy
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