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Wednesday 22.11.2017 | Name days: Aldis, Alfons, Aldris
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Lithuania may seek another ban of farming land sale

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Author: AFP/SCANPIX

Lithuania wants to secure yet another 5-year extension of a ban for sale of agricultural land to foreign nationals.

The current 3-year ban expires at the end of April 2013. Earlier farming land was kept away from foreign nationals with the help of a 7-year ban agreed with Brussels upon Lithuania’s accession to the EU in 2004, Bbn.ee wrote.

In theory, the ban serves to shield local farmers from competition from richer foreign peers, allowing the locals to gain financial strength and increase their land holdings. In practice, it is major farming groups that have kept boosting their land holdings.

The pro-ban argument that does not enjoy a wide support is that after the economic crisis local farmers are still weak to amass land holdings of an efficient size.

The ban, present and the theoretical extension, does not extend to legal persons, so foreigners have owned thousands of hectares of local land for use and lease ever since 2004. For instance, German listed KTG Agrar now owns 4,300 ha of land under cultivation, and with another 2,900 ha leased, controls one of the biggest land holdings in the country.

Thousands of hectares are also owned by German and Northern European farmers through their Lithuanian companies.

On the surface, this looks odd because the law limits ownership of land by one legal person or a farmer to 500 ha but the restriction has been easily ignored by some actors setting up numerous companies or engaging family members to buy up thousands of hectares of land.

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