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Budget lifts ban on foreign ownership of land

Published On: Feb 28 2013 08:52:57 AM CST

MADISON, Wis. -

Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal would lift a longtime ban on foreign ownership of large tracts of land in Wisconsin.

The 1887 law bars foreigners from owning more than 640 acres in the state. Some Republican legislators are among opponents of the change.

Rep. Lee Nerison, of Westby, told the State Journal, the ban should be kept in place and the issue should be debated on its own merits, rather than in the state budget.

Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie says the law needs to be changed because it conflicts with the General Agreement on Trade in Services treaty. It was enacted by World Trade Organization members in 1995 to stabilize international service trading.

The federal Farm Service Agency says about 118,000 acres of privately-owned land in Wisconsin is held by foreign interests.

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