(NPN) – South Dakota has one of the lowest rates of foreign ownership of agricultural land in the United States, according to a new study by the USDA Farm Service Agency.

The report is titled “Foreign Holdings of U.S. Agricultural Land Through Dec. 31, 2011.” The data is through Dec. 31, 2011, the latest figures available.

While South Dakota has one of the lowest rates—0.3 percent of all farmland--the amount of foreign owned farmland increased nearly 15,000 acres from 2010 to 2011. Foreign entities owned 98,038 acres in 2010 and 112,892 acres in 2011.

Canadians own a plurality of the foreign owned land, with 21,806 acres, followed by Germans at 14,970 acres, Dutch at 4,292 acres and British at 272 acres. Other foreign citizens or entities own an additional 71,882 acres.

The top five South Dakota counties with foreign farmland ownership are: McPherson, 36,044 acres; Minnehaha County, 17,708; Butte County, 12.330; Pennington County, 6,854; and Spink County, 3,805 acres. Davison County had 2,288 acres foreign owned.

South Dakota contains nearly 48.6 million acres, with 37.9 million acres held privately and 112,892 of those acres owned by foreign entities, for a rate of 0.3 percent. The only states or territories with lower rates than South Dakota were Puerto Rico and Rhode Island with only negligible foreign ownership and Nebraska and Connecticut with 0.1 percent. States tied with South Dakota at 0.3 percent were North Dakota, Delaware, Kentucky and New Hampshire.

Statistics for other regional states: Wyoming, 1.3 percent; Minnesota, 1.2 percent; Montana, 1.1 percent and Iowa, 0.7 percent.

States with the highest percentage of foreign ownership were: Maine, 16 percent; Hawaii, 8.8 percent, Washington state, 7.6 percent, Alabama, 5.4 percent; Florida, 5.3 percent and Nevada 5.2 percent.

The data gathered through Dec. 31, 2011, indicate that foreign investors hold an interest in 25,715,588 acres of U.S. agricultural land, which is approximately 2 percent of all privately held U.S. agricultural land, and 1 percent of all land in the U.S. The total foreign-held U.S. agricultural acres as of the last report, dated Dec. 31, 2010, were 24,224,807, resulting in an increase of 1,490,781 acres.

According to the FSA, the publication’s findings are based on reports submitted to FSA in compliance with the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act of 1978 (AFIDA). The law was created to establish a nationwide system for collecting information pertaining to foreign ownership in U.S. agricultural land. Foreign investors who buy, sell or hold an interest (other than a security interest) in U.S. agricultural land are required to report such holdings and transactions to the Secretary of Agriculture on AFIDA Report Form FSA-153. The data gleaned from these reports is used in the preparation of an annual report to Congress.