A group of bipartisan U.S. senators introduced a bill on Wednesday to ban the purchase of U.S. farmland by Chinese persons and entities.
In a press release, Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), John Tester (D-Mont.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) stated their collective objective for the bill: to address national security concerns—food security and China’s threat to America’s military and economic power—over Chinese farmland ownership in the United States.
If enacted, the ban would also apply to agricultural land leases, regardless of the lease duration. The legislation’s farmland purchase prohibition covers a person or entity “owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of a foreign adversary,” defined as Iran, North Korea, China, or Russia. The ban excludes U.S. citizens or green card holders.
Braun, who filed paperwork in November to run for Indiana governor in 2024, sounded the alarm about the exponential increase in Chinese ownership of American farmland: “Chinese ownership of American farmland increased more than 20-fold in the past decade,” he said in his press release. “We cannot allow our top foreign adversaries to buy up American farmland and compromise our agricultural supply chains.”
As of Dec. 31, 2020, China owned 325,686 acres of U.S. agricultural land, according to the Department of Agriculture. While the acreage under Chinese ownership is slightly less than 1 percent of all foreign-held agricultural land, it represents a 20-fold leap from 13,720 acres in 2010.
“Foreign adversaries, including the Chinese Communist Party, should never be allowed to control Americans’ agricultural lands or our food supply,” echoed Rubio in the same press release. “We cannot allow these regimes to continue exploiting the openness of our system. This bipartisan legislation is an important step to protect our national security interests,” he added.
The new bill also specifies land for ranching purposes as agricultural land, in addition to land used for “agricultural, forestry, or timber production purposes” as defined by the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act (AFIDA) of 1978.
By Terri Wu
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Sens. Braun, Tester, Rubio and Tuberville introduce bipartisan bill to stop foreign adversaries from buying U.S. farmland
Wednesday, March 22, 2023
WASHINGTON—Today, Senators Braun, Tester, Rubio and Tuberville introduced legislation to prohibit the purchase of U.S. farmland by those associated with the governments of our foreign adversaries (Iran, North Korea, China and Russia).
“Chinese ownership of American farmland increased more than 20-fold in the past decade. We cannot allow our top foreign adversaries to buy up American farmland and compromise our agricultural supply chains. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan effort with Senator Tester to protect American farms and bolster food security.”— Sen. Braun
“As a third-generation Montana farmer, I am not going to let our foreign adversaries use American farmland to threaten our position as the world’s leading military and economic power. That’s why I’m leading this bipartisan effort to defend our food security and national security.”—Sen. Tester
“Foreign adversaries, including the Chinese Communist Party, should never be allowed to control Americans’ agricultural lands or our food supply. We cannot allow these regimes to continue exploiting the openness of our system. This bipartisan legislation is an important step to protect our national security interests.”—Sen. Rubio
“The surge of foreign-owned agricultural land in the U.S. demonstrates the need to keep our top foreign adversaries out of our agricultural supply chains. We must increase federal oversight of foreign investments in agricultural land, especially from Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. Our food and national security must be prioritized and protected from bad actors. I’m proud to support this legislation to safeguard our agricultural industry and national interests.”—Sen. Tuberville
U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows that Chinese ownership of U.S. farmland increased from $81 million in 2010 to $1.8 billion in 2020. The Protecting America’s Agricultural Land from Foreign Harm Act would prohibit the purchase or lease of agricultural land in the United States by those associated with the governments of Iran, North Korea, China and Russia. It also prohibits their participation in the USDA agricultural programs for farmers. These restrictions do not include United States citizens or permanent residents.
Bill text here.