Senators push additional rules for foreign landowners

Bipartisan bill also increases penalties.

Joshua Baethge, Policy editor

July 21, 2023

2 Min Read
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Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D- Wisc., and Chuck Grassley, R- Iowa, introduced legislation they say will increase transparency and oversite of foreign ownership within American agriculture. The Farmland Security Act of 2023 would add additional requirements to the Agriculture Foreign Investment Act of 1978.

Per the terms of that law, foreign landowners must disclose their holdings to the Secretary of Agriculture and file an FSA-153 in with the Farm Service Center where the land is located. Baldwin and Grassley say more rules are now needed.

“Our agricultural economy is the beating heart of Wisconsin’s rural communities. But when foreign investors own farmland and agricultural processing capacity, it can put our national security, domestic food supply, and local communities at risk,” Baldwin says. “The Farmland Security Act of 2023 will give the American public and Congress a clearer picture of who owns America’s heartland, while also investing in critical research to better understand how foreign ownership is impacting our rural communities, family farms, and national security.”

The bill mandates research on foreign agricultural production capacity ownership and foreign ownership of agriculture economic activity. Foreign owners or shell companies that fail to accurately report their acreage would face new financial penalties. USDA would be required to conduct annual compliance audits and provide annual training on how to identify foreign landowners who do not report.

This is not the first time Baldwin and Grassley have introduced legislation targeting foreign landowners. Last year they led a successful effort to pass the American Farmland Security Act which placed additional reporting requirements on foreign-held agricultural land.

“The world’s best farmland is located in America,” Grassley says. “Our foreign competitors recognize this and continue to invest in American agricultural land, increasing competition for young and beginning farmers and threatening our national security. Our bill gives Congress and the American people the resources to closely monitor these foreign sales in order to assess the risks they pose.”

About the Author(s)

Joshua Baethge

Policy editor, Farm Progress

Joshua Baethge covers a wide range of government issues affecting agriculture. Before joining Farm Progress, he spent 10 years as a news and feature reporter in Texas. During that time, he covered multiple state and local government entities, while also writing about real estate, nightlife, culture and whatever else was the news of the day.

Baethge earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas. In his free time, he enjoys going to concerts, discovering new restaurants, finding excuses to be outside and traveling as much as possible. He is based in the Dallas area where he lives with his wife and two kids.

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