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Biden administration must investigate threat of Chinese ownership of US farmland, GOP says

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 10/5/2022 Jerry Dunleavy

The Biden administration must examine the “national security” implications posed by China and other foreign countries buying up large swaths of U.S. farmland, according to more than 100 House Republicans.

Republicans in Congress have been pushing the Government Accountability Office to get tougher on China, as the U.S. intelligence community has warned that Beijing poses the greatest long-term national security challenge to the United States. The new GOP letter on China’s efforts to grab up America's farmland was addressed to GAO Comptroller Gene Dodaro and was signed by 130 House Republicans.

“We write to request a Government Accountability Office review of foreign investment in U.S. farmland and its impact on national security, trade, and food security as well as U.S. government efforts to monitor these acquisitions,” the group of House Republicans said Monday, adding that “investors from countries such as China and Saudi Arabia have increased their investment in U.S. agricultural land.”

HOUSE GOP WARNS OF 'ALARMING' CHINA-LINKED PURCHASE OF FARMLAND NEAR AIR BASE

Chinese President Xi Jinping walks past an honor guard during a ceremony to mark Martyr's Day at the Monument to the People's Heroes at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) © Provided by Washington Examiner Chinese President Xi Jinping walks past an honor guard during a ceremony to mark Martyr's Day at the Monument to the People's Heroes at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Rep. James Comer (R-KY), the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, helped lead the GAO letter.

“China’s ownership of U.S. farmland is a threat to our food security and national security. An affordable, reliable food supply is critical to our nation’s well-being and prosperity and we must ensure America maintains control of our nation’s resources,” Comer said in a statement, arguing that “Americans need transparency about the federal government’s efforts to address this growing problem.”

Rep. Glenn Thompson, the ranking GOP member of the House Agricultural Committee, also joined in the effort.

“Foreign ownership and investment in U.S. agricultural land has nearly doubled in the past decade,” Thompson said. “It is critical for Congress to have a thorough understanding of foreign investment in our nation’s agricultural land.”

The GOP letter noted that some states have imposed restrictions on foreign ownership of U.S. farmland and added that “concerns about national security, including a Chinese company’s purchase of farmland in North Dakota near an Air Force base that is home to top-secret drone technology, drive fears of foreign ownership of U.S. agricultural land.”

Last month, dozens of House Republicans warned top Biden Cabinet secretaries about the “alarming” effort by a Chinese government-linked company to buy a large plot of land miles from a crucial military drone base in North Dakota.

CONCERNS RAISED ABOUT CHINESE LAND PURCHASE NEAR U.S. DRONE SITE

Fufeng Group, a huge agricultural company with significant links to China’s government, purchased 370 acres as a location for its new wet corn mill in the agribusiness park just a short distance from Grand Forks Air Force Base.

“The presence of a Chinese Communist Party-affiliated corporation near a military installation potentially undermines the integrity of our high-capability military bases, jeopardizing our strategic interests,” more than 50 House Republicans said last month in a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission warned in May that Fufeng has “ties” to the Chinese government and to the Chinese Communist Party. The commission noted the U.S. air base “houses some of the United States’ top intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.”

HONG KONG'S CATHOLIC CARDINAL ZEN PROSECUTED BY CHINA

The Department of Agriculture has said that foreign ownership and investment in U.S. agricultural land “nearly doubled” between 2010 and 2020, revealing that foreign individuals and entities held an interest in 37.6 million acres of U.S. farmland by the end of 2020, which makes up 2.9% of all privately held agricultural land and 1.7% of the total land in the U.S.

The department also released a report saying that, through the end of 2019, Chinese investors held 191,652 acres of U.S. agricultural land at the time. The agency said in 2018 that “the incorporation of agricultural investment into broader geopolitical objectives is reflected by the prominence” of the Chinese government’s “One Belt One Road” initiative.

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The new GOP letter asked the GAO to research what is known about the extent of trends in foreign investment in U.S. farmland and to tell them how, if at all, America's government uses the data on foreign investment in U.S. farmland “to ensure the land is used for its intended purpose and does not pose a threat to national security.”

Republicans also asked the GAO about “what improvements or policy options, including regarding national security, could be made to strengthen reporting of foreign investment in agricultural land.”

 

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Tags: China, News, Beijing, Agriculture, Foreign Policy, National Security

Original Author: Jerry Dunleavy

Original Location: Biden administration must investigate threat of Chinese ownership of US farmland, GOP says

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