Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is reintroducing legislation to target foreign ownership of U.S. farmland by malign actors like China and Russia but aims this year to attach it to the must-pass defense bill.
Grassley says three-percent of U.S. farmland is held by foreign firms, including 550,000 acres in his home state of Iowa alone.
The longtime Ag Senator is reintroducing with other Ag lawmakers, the “Food Security is National Security Act”. “The bill has bipartisan support, and we have filed it as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization bill,” says Grassley. “Our food security, and indeed our national security is at stake, if we do not thoughtfully consider the impact of these foreign investments.”
The bill requires the USDA and FDA to have permanent seats on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or ‘CFIUS’–an inter-agency panel that reviews the national security impacts of foreign investments in the United States.
But Grassley says that effort’s come up short. “While the United States recognizes the need for closely examining foreign investment, for some reason, agriculture’s excluded from that conversation. That’s why, last week, I led an effort by Senator Stabenow and Senator Ernst to reintroduce our bill,” according to Grassley.
U.S. lawmakers increasingly point to food as a national security issue, as Russia prosecutes its war in Ukraine and halts the Black Sea grain deal, China threatens Taiwan and North Korea and Iran develop or test nuclear weapons.
USDA reports China, Russia and Iran accounted for a combined 200,000 acres of foreign owned ag land here in 2019, China, most of it, largely by owning Smithfield Foods.
But allies Canada, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany hold the lions’ share of foreign-own U.S. ag land—over 35 million acres.