Update: “Wisconsin state legislators have blocked an effort by Gov. Scott Walker to lift the state’s long-time limits on foreign ownership of farmland, legislative staffers and lobbyists tell DTN.” – from DTNProgressiveFarmer 05/20/2013
This latest news comes from Wisconsin Public Radio:
For decades, foreign investors and corporations couldn’t purchase more than 640 acres of land in the state. The provision was originally put in place over concern Canada was trying to buy up land in Minnesota and other states. Now, Governor Walker says he wants those restrictions lifted because it conflicts with international trade treaties. Kara Slaughter is the government relations director with the Wisconsin Farmers Union. She says the proposed change could make already expensive farm land even more costly: “We open the flood gates to a tremendous influx of investment capital into the farmland sector, that could make ownership of farmland simply unattainable for average farms.”
Just a couple of thoughts:
1) Really? “International treaties” need to be respected? There may be a point here but given that Scott Walker has ignored the state and federal constitution when it fits his agenda, I’m not buying this.
2) I’ve been hearing for a couple decades that Wisconsin farmland was too expensive for small farmers to buy. Some of the best farmland in Dane County, for example, has been paved over, built on, or rendered too expensive because of its proximity to a city. Contractors buy it, plant corn on it, and shamelessly collect farm subsidies until they build a crop of houses. The building boom’s over but now Wisconsin has a new Wisconsin “crop” called frac sand which may yield a land owner at lease up to $1 million dollars per year over a period of 3-5 years. And apparently there’s also iron and gold in the hills, too.
All I can say is this does not bode well.
Hat tip to Democurmudgeon