Arkansas ordered the company to sell 160 acres within two years
By Diego Flammini
State officials are forcing a crop input manufacturer to sell farmland located within their borders.
“I’m announcing that Syngenta, a Chinese state-owned agrichemical company, must give up its land holdings in Arkansas,” Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a press conference Tuesday.
Northrup King Seed Co., a subsidiary of Syngenta Seeds, owns about 160 acres (64 hectares) of land in Craighead County which it primarily uses for seed research.
The land is valued at around $1.12 million.
Syngenta’s parent company, ChemChina, which acquired Syngenta in 2017, appears on a Department of Defense’s list of Chinese military companies operating in the U.S.
Therefore, its operations in Arkansas cannot be allowed, to ensure the safety of American agriculture, Gov. Sanders said.
“Seeds are technology,” she said. “China’s state-owned corporations filter that technology back to their homeland, stealing American research and telling our enemies how to target American farms. That is a clear threat to our national security and to our great farmers.”
Forcing Syngenta to sell its land in Arkansas supports legislation passed earlier in the year.
Act 636 prohibits foreign parties from nine countries from owning agricultural land in Arkansas.
The bill also mandates the creation of the Office of Agricultural Intelligence.
The office’s responsibilities include analyzing data related to the unlawful sale of farmland to foreign parties.
Syngenta, which owns about 1,500 acres of U.S. farmland is disappointed with the decision in Arkansas.
The work the company does in Arkansas and the United States is driven by Americans an no one else, it said.
“Our people in Arkansas are Americans led by Americans who care deeply about serving Arkansas farmers,” the company said in a statement, K8 reported. “This action hurts Arkansas farmers more than anyone else.
“No one from China has ever directed any Syngenta executive to buy, lease, or otherwise engage in land acquisition in the United States.”
In addition to selling its land, Syngenta must also pay a fine.
The company has 30 days to pay a $280,000 fine it incurred for failing to disclose its farmland ownership in a timely manner, Attorney General Tim Griffin said during the press conference.
Arkansas is the first state to outright ban some foreign ownership of U.S. farmland, but many state governments are considering similar action.
In total, at least 11 states including Utah, Montana, California and Indiana, are working on legislation to ban or make foreign farmland ownership more transparent.