Gap in data complicates legislation to keep China off American farms

Photo: Farm Journal (Fair Use)

Lawmakers at both the national and state levels are expressing concerns regarding the acquisition of American farmland and forestland by foreign buyers, especially those associated with the Chinese government, citing potential national security risks.

Lawmakers from both sides of the political spectrum are increasingly viewing Beijing and the Chinese Communist Party as potential threats to the United States, Roll Call is reporting.

This has provided an opening for lawmakers from agricultural states to promote proposals they have long championed, which would classify foreign ownership of farmland and businesses as national security risks equivalent to those presented by foreign ownership of advanced technology firms and intellectual property.

Notwithstanding the strong language used regarding China, there are concerns that federal oversight of transactions that are primarily recorded locally, and where the buyers’ country of origin is sometimes only disclosed on a voluntary basis, could face opposition.

Although legislative initiatives were blocked in the 117th Congress, they are once again being considered, although it remains uncertain whether they will be passed in the current Congress, as reported by Roll Call.

One potential reason for their improved chances is that both sides of the divided Congress share a common view on China. Furthermore, several bills have been proposed that would strengthen the approach to certain buyers, recognizing that recent federal scrutiny did not prevent Chinese buyers from completing some transactions.

Written by staff