Republican Legislation to Safeguard U.S. Agriculture Land from Chinese Buyers Moves Forward
In a noteworthy development, recent Republican legislation designed to shield U.S. agricultural land from Chinese buyers has gained significant traction, inching closer to an entire floor vote. The Agricultural Security Risk Review Act, spearheaded by Rep. Frank Lucas, has secured unanimous backing from the House Financial Services Committee, setting the stage for further deliberation.
Unanimous Committee Support
The bill, introduced by Rep. Frank Lucas, received a resounding endorsement during a House Financial Services Committee markup with a unanimous 42-0 vote last week. The committee’s chairman, Patrick McHenry, and the ranking member, Maxine Waters, voiced their unwavering support for the legislation. This resounding committee approval marks a crucial milestone as the bill advances toward an imminent entire floor vote.
Empowering the Department of Agriculture
Under Rep. Lucas’ visionary legislation, the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture would be a full-fledged member of the Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS). CFIUS, a critical interagency task force overseen by the Department of the Treasury, scrutinizes foreign investments that could pose a national security threat. The bill aims to equip CFIUS with the authority to reject agricultural transactions that may compromise the nation’s security interests.
Addressing Rising Concerns
Recently, land acquisitions by foreign investors, particularly those hailing from China, have triggered growing concerns among Republican lawmakers and community leaders nationwide. There is an escalating apprehension that foreign corporations and investors are gradually gaining control over substantial segments of U.S. food and energy resources. Disturbingly, the Department of Agriculture data reveals that Chinese agricultural investments surged tenfold between 2009 and 2016 alone.
Strong Bipartisan Backing
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has supported Rep. Lucas’ groundbreaking legislation. He asserts that securing a permanent seat at the CFIUS table would empower the Department of Agriculture to enlighten other committee members about the intricacies of agriculture and agricultural production. This bipartisan endeavor seeks to ensure that CFIUS considers the unique aspects of agriculture when evaluating proposed transactions.
Highlighting National Security Concerns
Recent incidents further underscore the potential national security risks of foreign land purchases. For instance, the rejection of a Chinese company’s proposed corn mill in Grand Forks, North Dakota, stemmed from concerns about its proximity to a U.S. Air Force base. Similarly, the land acquisition in Michigan by a Chinese green energy firm, Gotion High-Tech subsidiary, near military armories and the most significant U.S. National Guard training facility has raised red flags.
Endorsement by Key Associations
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has thrown its weight behind Rep. Lucas’ pivotal legislation, underscoring the paramount importance of safeguarding agriculture in the context of national security. By including the Secretary of Agriculture within CFIUS, the bill ensures that American farmers and ranchers have a direct voice in the review process, preventing the oversight of agriculture’s indispensable role in safeguarding our national security.
As this legislation progresses, it reflects the determination of policymakers to protect America’s agricultural heritage and ensure its continued vital contribution to national security. Stay tuned for further developments as this crucial bill advances through the legislative process.