Budget provision allowing foreigners to buy more Wisconsin land scrutinized by DemsA group of senate Democrats wants to hear from the public on a provision in the budget that would allow foreigners greater opportunity to buy up Wisconsin land.
By: By Steve Roisum, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
A group of senate Democrats wants to hear from the public on a provision in the budget that would allow foreigners greater opportunity to buy up Wisconsin land.
Wisconsin law does not allow foreign investors to buy more than 640 acres of state land. But a provision in the state’s proposed next budget would lift that ban altogether. The governor says that move will bring Wisconsin in line with several international trade treaties.
But, Democratic members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Small Business and Tourism are telling Walker, “not so fast.“ They want a public hearing. Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, says her constituents are worried that foreign buyers will drive up land costs. She says that's a concern that not everyone in the state can understand.
“What I see is clouded by the fact that most of the people I talk with on a daily basis are rural and they have their roots in the soil,” she said. “If I went to Milwaukee, I might have a very different type of conversation.”
Recently, a company with Swiss ties called UBS AgriVest purchased 9,800 acres of farmland in Grant County in southwest Wisconsin. A call for comment was not returned.
Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, says the senators want to know, among other things, what to do if foreign companies set up offices in the United States to get around the state’s current partial ban.
"We want to find out what is happening in other states, how this practice could impact our dairy industry, how it could impact our potential mining, how it could impact our property taxes,” he said.
Senators Vinehout and Hansen would like a public hearing next week. That decision will be up to the committee’s chair, Sen. Terry Moulton, R-Chippewa Falls.