George Soros owns thousands of acres of Uruguay farmland including this farm in Durazno.
Foreign ownership of Uruguay farms up 300% since 2000
New census data out this week from Uruguay’s leading ag agency shows the number of foreign investors buying Uruguay farmland and the average farm size both rose rapidly over the past decade.
The Uruguay Ministry of Cattle, Agriculture and Fishing (MGAP) released the 2011 Farming General Census yesterday, and the percentage of Uruguayans owning farmland has fallen to 83% from 96% in 2000, while the number of foreign investors owning Uruguay farmland rose from 4% to 17% over the same period.
The MGAP report also shows consolidation within Uruguay’s farm sector, as more investors assemble larger parcels and convert low-yield pastureland into high-yield cropland. The total number of Uruguay farms with total area greater than 1 hectare (2.47 acres) is now 44,890 compared to 57,131 a decade ago.
In terms of average size, the 44,890 Uruguay farms break down as follows: 12,274 between 1 and 19 hectares (27%), 12,657 between 20 and 99 hectares (28%), 5,540 between 100 and 199 hectares (12%), 6,473 between 200 and 499 hectares (15%), 6,778 between 500 and 2,500 hectares (15%) and 1,168 farms over 2,500 hectares (3%). Median farm size in Uruguay is now 361 hectares or 892 acres.
Overall, 56% of Uruguay’s smaller farms account for 5% of the total area being harvested while 9% of large farms account for 60% of Uruguay farmland. In terms of farm use, the number of Uruguay farms dedicated to crops like soy, wheat and rice rose 67% between 2000 and 2011, and two-thirds of those farms were larger than 500 hectares (1,235 acres). (Full Story in Spanish)