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U.S. Farms Get More Foreign Investment, Swanson Says

June 9 (Bloomberg) -- Foreign food companies, banks and makers of fertilizer and chemicals will boost investment in U.S. agriculture as economic growth spurs demand, said an economist at Wells Fargo & Co., the largest U.S. lender to farmers.

Farming will draw investment because the U.S. economy is growing three times faster than the population, said Michael Swanson, the senior agricultural economist at Well Fargo. The long-term growth rate is about 2.8 percent annually as the population expands about 0.9 percent, Swanson said.

“Economic activity per person is going to continue to grow,” Swanson said today during an agricultural symposium sponsored by the Federal Reserve in Kansas City, Missouri. “There are good opportunities for foreign investors in the largest agricultural market in the world.”

Bank of New Zealand already has invested $1 billion in U.S. agriculture from a global portfolio of $32 billion, said Tony Arthur, the head of agribusiness for Aukland, New Zealand-based BNZ Partners, a division of the bank.

“We see an opportunity to leverage our agricultural knowledge in the U.S.,” Arthur said. “We will be more than a one-trick pony,” by increasing investments in health care and other businesses, he said from the agricultural conference.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Wilson in Chicago at jwilson29@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net.

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