Legislation introduced by Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., and Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., the Promoting Agriculture Safeguards and Security Act, prevents foreign adversaries from taking any ownership or control of the United States’ agriculture industry.
As a response to reports of China threatening America’s food supply by acquiring U.S. farmland and agriculture companies, the legislators state the bill will ensure USDA is fully involved in reviewing foreign adversaries’ acquisition of American companies that may affect the domestic agriculture sector.
“Adversarial nations, like China, continue to threaten our homeland, using tactics like buying American agriculture companies and stealing agriculture research to undermine our economy,” says Crawford. “Washington must realize that agriculture security in national security, and we have a duty to protect our food supply and those who produce it. I’m proud to work with Rep. Stefanik to draw attention to this critical threat and seek to defend American agriculture.”
Stefanik adds, “Food security is national security, and I am proud to stand up against our foreign adversaries as they attempt to exploit any potential vulnerability and assert control over our agriculture industry.”
USDA reports foreign persons and entities held an interest in 35.2 million acres of U.S. agricultural land in 2019, accounting for 2.7% of all privately owned agricultural land. USDA reports that foreign holdings of U.S. agricultural land have increased by an average of 2.3 million acres per year since 2015.
Individuals and entities in five countries accounted for more than 62% of all foreign-owned agricultural land in 2019, according to a Congressional Research Service report. As a share of all foreign-owned acres, these were Canada (29%, mostly forestland), the Netherlands (14%), Italy (7%), the United Kingdom (6%), and Germany (6%). Other countries with foreign investments of more than 500,000 acres were Portugal, Denmark, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Cayman Islands, Switzerland and Japan.
Stefanik continues, “The United States cannot allow malign ownership bids of American assets by China, Russia, Iran and North Korea to undermine the efforts of our farmers, whose hard work feeds and fuels our communities. Especially as we witness the devastating impact of a supply chain crisis, the United States cannot cede any ownership of our food supply to those who do not share our security interests.”
The PASS Act:
- Blacklists China, Russia, Iran and North Korea from purchasing U.S. agriculture companies,
- Includes agriculture and biotechnology related to agriculture as critical infrastructure,
- Adds the secretary of agriculture as a standing member of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to consider agriculture needs when making determinations affecting our national security, and
- Requires reporting from the secretary of agriculture on the risk of foreign purchases of agriculture companies to the American agriculture sector.