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Strong bill to protect US farmland from adversaries

US Rep. Dale Strong introduced cosponsored bipartisan legislation Wednesday that he hopes will serve to protect American agriculture within the United States.

The Protecting America’s Agricultural Land from Foreign Harm Act is meant to ensure that countries deemed hostile to the United States – such as China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia – cannot purchase or own U.S. farmland.

The United States does not have accurate data pertaining to foreign land ownership and investment due to loopholes and inaccurate reporting that are a product of the shortcomings of the Agriculture Foreign Investment Disclosure Act, he said. The Protecting America’s Agricultural Land from Foreign Harm Act will change that.

Strong (R-Huntsville) said he is particularly concerned about the threat from the Chinese Community Party.

“The United States can no longer turn a blind eye to the threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party.” he said. “As the CCP looks to exploit weaknesses in our free and open society, it is our responsibility to ensure that the American people are protected against those who seek to undermine our national interest. This legislation is crucial to ensure our adversaries do not interfere with our food and fiber market by owning agriculture land.

“We must be able to effectively monitor who is growing, producing, and marketing our food safety and agriculture products. Lacking that ability is a clear threat to national security.”

Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a cosponsor, said she has personal experience in dealing with the CCP.

“As a former CIA case officer, I recognize the threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party’s aggressive influence campaigns, as well as its attempts to target U.S. national security interests through seemingly innocuous transactions,” said Spanberger (D-Va.) “And as the only Virginian on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, I’m committed to protecting America’s farms and farm families from foreign threats.”

She also called for countering the efforts of foreign, hostile powers in their attempts to obtain American agricultural land.

“I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan, bicameral bill that recognizes the threats posed by not just by the CCP — but also Russia, Iran, and North Korea,” Spanberger said. “If buying up American farmland is a tool for eroding our nation’s food security, economic security, and national security, then we need to be prepared to take steps to push back against these efforts.”

Those associated with the governments of these foreign adversaries are prohibited from participating in certain U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs. These restrictions do not apply to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.

Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News.

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