IN-DEPTH: Battle for the Heartland–How US Farmland is Quietly Falling Into Chinese Hands

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Chinese ownership of US agricultural lands saw 5000% increase in one decade

The valleys give way to the prairies and the prairies give way to the badlands where fields of golden cinquefoils surrender to the might of towering plateaus of striated bedrock.

The rugged openness of South Dakota presents the quintessential image of the American countryside, a pure distillation of the natural environment that captured the pioneers’ hope for a better future all those years ago.

But how long this countryside remains American is now an open question in these parts.

That’s because Chinese-owned entities, some linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), have been purchasing land here in South Dakota and elsewhere in the country at a breathtaking pace for more than a decade.

Some of the land they gobble up is for farming, other acreage is allotted for energy use, and still more parcels are forebodingly adjacent to sensitive U.S. military sites.

Indeed, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates (pdf) that Chinese holdings of U.S. agricultural lands reached more than 352,000 acres in 2020, up more than 5,300 percent from the less than 14,000 acres owned in 2010.

To stem the growing incursion, state governments from across the nation are working desperately to craft legislation that would end the trend once and for all.

Too often however, those efforts are met with stolid resistance from entrenched business interests and, as was the case in South Dakota, are ultimately abandoned to placate private interests.

A Permanent Spy Balloon

Adam Savit heads the China Policy division of the America First Policy Institute (AFPI), a conservative think tank tasked with the mission of advancing policies that put American citizens’ rights and well-being before other considerations.

He believes that the continued acceptance of CCP-backed acquisitions of U.S. land are an affront to American laws and norms, as well as a violation of equitable international practice.

By Andrew Thornebrooke

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