Protecting Czech Lands: A Proposal to Limit Foreign Access

A legislative proposal in the Czech Republic could restrict buyers from outside the European Union from acquiring agricultural land in the country. The proposal is being prepared by Karel Smetana, a representative from the People’s Party, and it has garnered support from the Ministry of Agriculture and coalition partners.

The initiative aims to reduce pressure on prices from non-agricultural investors. “We’re talking about limiting the sale of land to third countries outside the EU or about pre-emptive rights for the person farming on the given land, possibly for the state,” Smetana said. The rules regarding foreigners are intended to be enshrined in an amendment to the law on protecting the agricultural land fund. According to Smetana, only those countries that allow Czech citizens to purchase land would be exempted from the purchase.

The representative pointed out that many European countries already have a similar form of protection in place. “For example, it is difficult for a non-resident to buy agricultural land in Poland. Similarly, in France, a state agency has a pre-emptive right,” he highlighted. This issue is also being tackled by the United States, where the debate on limiting land purchases is ongoing due to China.

Before proceeding with the proposal, Smetana wants to discuss the matter with representatives of other government parties. However, he has the support of his party colleague and Minister of Agriculture, Marek Výborný. According to the minister, the goal is simple: “To protect Czech land so that it remains in Czech hands.”

However, the exact evidence of land ownership is missing in the Czech Republic, and there’s no precise data on ownership structure. There are roughly 4.2 million hectares of agricultural land in the Czech Republic, of which arable land makes up 3.9 million and permanent grassland covers 1.03 million hectares. The rest comprises hop fields, vineyards, orchards, and gardens. The idea of limiting access to people and companies from countries outside the EU is not new, and the debate resurfaces periodically. The proposal is set to continue stirring discussions among the country’s lawmakers.