CLEBURNE – 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, according to Michael W. Knox, executive director of the Johnson-Tarrant County Farm Service Agency.

“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 transaction,” Knox said.

Foreign investors must file Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act reports with the Farm Service Agency county office that maintains reports for the country 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,” Knox said.

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 Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act 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.

“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,” Knox said.

For more information regarding AFIDA and FSA programs, contact the Johnson-Tarrant County FSA office at 817-645-5411 or visit the USDA Web sites at www.usda.gov.