A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced legislation in Congress aimed at beefing up oversight of foreign investors buying U.S. farmland.
Apprehension about foreign purchases of U.S. farmland has surfaced before in Congress. The lawmakers who are now renewing the call for increased scrutiny cite concerns over national security and recent acquisitions by Chinese buyers as their reasons for introducing legislation.
“In the face of significant foreign investment in American farmland, we need to recognize how foreign actors could pose potential threats to our economic strength, the competitiveness of our ag industry and our national security,” said Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., one of the legislation’s sponsors.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., another sponsor, expressed concern over a recent uptick in foreign purchases of farmland.
“Over the past few years, we’ve seen an alarming increase in foreign purchases of farmland and food companies, particularly by China,” said Tuberville.
According to the latest USDA data, at the end of 2021, foreign investors held about 40 million acres, or just over 3% of all privately held agricultural land nationwide, up from 35 million acres in 2019.
The data shows that China owned slightly less than 1% of foreign-held U.S. agricultural land at the end of 2021. Canadian investors held the largest share, at 31%. Investors from Germany, Italy, the U.K. and the Netherlands together held another 31%. Investors from other countries have smaller shares.
The lawmakers who are pushing to increase oversight of foreign investments have introduced legislation called the Foreign Adversary Risk Management (FARM) Act in the House and Senate.
Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., one of the bill’s sponsors on the Senate side, said it is critical to “ensure all these foreign investments are properly vetted.”
Marshall’s co-sponsors include Sens. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., Mike Braun, R-Ind., Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., and Rick Scott, R-Fla.
On the House side, Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, is introducing the bill with Reps. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas, and more than two dozen other co-sponsors.
The act would authorize the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS — an inter-agency committee comprised of Cabinet members and other officials — to oversee and review foreign investments and purchases related to farmland.
The panel is led by the Treasury secretary. Its members include the heads of the departments of Homeland Security and Defense, Justice and other agencies.
The bill would give USDA’s agricultural secretary a seat on the committee and direct the panel members to protect the U.S. agricultural supply chain from foreign interference. Currently, the panel focuses mostly on overseeing investment in businesses and certain types of real estate.
“Adding all parts of the agricultural supply chain to the list of transactions reviewed by CFIUS is the first step toward ensuring America’s agricultural suppliers can keep food on tables across the country,” said Tuberville.
The act would stop short of banning foreign companies from buying U.S. farmland, as legislation in some congressional sessions has sought.
Sign up for our Top Stories newsletter
Success! An email has been sent to with a link to confirm list signup.
Error! There was an error processing your request.