Republicans look to enact bill to prevent foreign entities from buying farmland

by ian

 

If you’ve been following us at FISM News for some time, you’ll likely be familiar with this problem: foreign entities are buying up American farmland at an alarming rate.

According to reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, foreign entities now own 40 million acres of farmland in the United States. One particular entity of concern is the Chinese government. The USDA reports that China has bought up nearly 347,000 of those acres.

As for why this is a concern – many tend to cite national security. Some of the Chinese-purchased land has been located near U.S. military installations. Some national security experts, like former NCSC director William Evanina, say this amounts to a form of espionage.

But the problem also extends to American agriculture. Less available land means less domestic production of foods and other related goods, meaning we may have to rely on imports and purchases from other countries. This is a concern shared among farmers in Michigan, who recently fought against a Chinese company takeover of nearby land.

Rep. Ashley Hinson, a Republican from Iowa, also told the Daily Mail that she is concerned about the stability of the national food supply chains. Speaking on China in particular, Hinson said that the CCP “shouldn’t be allowed to buy another acre of American farmland, nor should we rely upon our top adversary for key parts of our food supply chain.”

These two concerns are pushing Congress to take action. Representative Hinson is among a bipartisan group of legislators in support of a new bill to strengthen American farmers. The so-called “2024 Farm Bill” looks to make a number of changes to the agricultural process, including how land is purchased.

A section of the bill would reform parts of the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act – or AFIDA. One of these reforms requires a report “on any agricultural land owned by citizens or entities with ties to China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and other state sponsors of terrorism.”

The reports would identify any possible threats from these foreign-owned lands. The bill would also establish a new position dedicated to overseeing activities related to AFIDA and calls for timelier data sharing on international land purchases.

The current iteration of the bill passed through the House Committee on Agriculture with a 33-21 vote last week. Hinson and Committee Chair Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) celebrated the bill’s passage.

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