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China-owned US farmland about to dry up

Foreign investors such as state-backed Chinese companies are being treated as a threat to rural economics and national security with the U.S. Senate moving to crack down on foreign ownership of American farmland. 

An amendment to the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act introduced by Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) targets a focus on four nations: China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran.

China holds approximately 383,935 acres of American agricultural land, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Both of Alabama’s U.S. senators have sounded the alarm about that fact and worked urgently to do something about it. 

“Alabama has the third highest amount of foreign-owned land in the United States,” Sen. Tommy Tuberville told reporters Wednesday. “We can’t let our enemies take control of the land that feeds our people.

“So that’s why I previously introduced the FARM (Foreign Adversary Risk Management) Act. It increased oversight of investments in agriculture businesses and added the Secretary of Agriculture to the (Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.)”

The Rounds amendment is substantively identical to the FARM Act authored by Tuberville in 2021.

RELATED: Britt: 1 acre of US farmland owned by China is 1 too many

That provision, supported by Tuberville (R-Auburn) and Sen. Katie Britt would require that committee to review investments by a foreign person in any unaffiliated U.S. business in agriculture or biotechnology related to agriculture. 

The committee would also review the purchase or lease by foreign person of private real estate that is used in agriculture, and more than 320 acres or valued in excess of $5,000,000.  

“Covered foreign person” includes entities affiliated with China, Russia, Iran, or North Korea.

“They’re trying to feed 1.5 billion people every day and they’re looking for ways to enhance that,” Tuberville said about China. “If they continue to buy land here, we’re gonna have huge problems feeding the people here in our country.”

RELATED: Rep. Carl: Foreign investment in US farmland a threat to national security

Britt (R-Montgomery) has routinely taken China to task for its efforts.  

“I have heard from Alabamians as I travel across our state, and this is a concern for them – specifically, the Chinese Communist Party and their willingness and their efforts and their deliberate and intentional attempts to buy up fertile U.S. farmland,” Britt said in March.

“I believe food security is national security. Food security is economic security. I believe that one acre of American farmland owned by the Chinese Communist Party is one acre too many.”

During the 2023 legislative session, Alabama lawmakers also took action against foreign ownership of Alabama land. The Property Protection Act targets entities residing in China, Iran, North Korea, Russia and any person, country, or government identified on the Office of Foreign Assets Control sanction list from acquiring agricultural and forest property in the state.

Grayson Everett is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @Grayson270 

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