A new bill would prevent Chinese investors from owning American farmland
By Diego Flammini
Two U.S. senators introduced a bill to prevent Chinese investors from purchasing American farmland.
Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) tabled the Securing America’s Land from Foreign Interference Act on Aug. 2.
The bill directs the president “to take such actions as may be necessary to prohibit the purchase of public or private real estate located in the United States by the Chinese Communist Party, and for other purposes.”
China owns farmland in multiple countries.
In 2016, for example, China purchased more than 5,000 acres of farmland in France.
This year, Fufeng Group, a Chinese food company, bought 300 acres of land in Grand Forks, N.D. to build a corn milling plant.
The land is about 20 minutes away from Grand Forks Air Force Base.
Republican and Democrat lawmakers opposed the project citing potential national security issues.
“The Senate Intelligence Committee has been loudly sounding the alarm about the counterintelligence threat posed by the (People’s Republic of China),” said Mark Warner, chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, CNBC reported. “We should be seriously concerned about Chinese investment in locations close to sensitive sites, such as military bases around the U.S.”
Chinese investors owned 352,140 acres of U.S. farmland as of Dec. 30, 2020, USDA data says.
That number is up from owning 13,720 acres in 2010.
Allowing Chinese investors to strengthen their presence in the U.S. ag sector is a risk to more than food security, Sen. Cotton said.
“Chinese investments in American farmland put our food security at risk and provide opportunities for Chinese espionage against our military bases and critical infrastructure,” he said in a statement. “Instead of allowing these purchases, the U.S. government must bar the Communist Party from purchasing our land.”
Other members of Congress have introduced similar legislation.
In May, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) introduced the Prohibition of Agricultural Land for the People’s Republic of China Act.
Then, in June, Rep. Newhouse introduced an amendment to appropriations legislation to prohibit the purchase of U.S. ag land by companies owned by China, Russia, North Korea or Iran.
The June amendment passed unanimously by voice vote.