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Oversight sought on foreign ag land ownership

Side view of the front of the US capitol building.

Is foreign ownership of real estate a security concern for the United States?

After all, no matter who owns it, land can’t be moved.

In any case, Senator Tommy Tuberville, (R-AL) is worried enough to reintroduce his Foreign Adversary Risk Management Act, or FARM (a title no doubt cleared by the ACA: the Agency for Corny Acronyms). It is cosponsored by Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX). Senators Mike Braun (R-IN), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), and Rick Scott (R-FL) are also in support.

This roster is straight Republican, although the some of the House sponsors are Democrats: Reps. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA).

richard smoley produce blueprints

What would the FARM Act do?

Sen. Cramer’s website tells us:

“Specifically, the Foreign Adversary Risk Management (FARM) Act would:

• Add the Secretary of Agriculture as a member to CFIUS;

• add language to protect the U.S. agriculture industry from foreign control through transactions, mergers, acquisitions, or agreements; designate agricultural supply chains as critical infrastructure and critical technologies,

• and report to Congress on current and potential foreign investments in the U.S. agricultural industry from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Government Accountability Office (GAO).”

The CFIUS—in case you’re not fully up to speed on government acronyms—is the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, “the government body responsible for overseeing the foreign investment and acquisition of American companies,” says Sen. Cramer’s site.

“The American agricultural industry has changed significantly over time due to rising foreign investment and consolidation in the industry,” the site continues. “The federal government must shed light on global corporations becoming more involved with our domestic food supply and agricultural businesses.”

The chief target is the Current Hereditary Enemy: China.

“Over the past few years, we’ve seen an alarming increase in foreign purchases of farm land and food companies, particularly by China,” said Sen. Tuberville. “These foreign investments are now reaching every piece of the very large puzzle that makes up our agriculture industry, from farming and processing, to packaging and shipping. That’s why America’s agriculture community needs to have a permanent seat at the table when our government vets foreign investment in our country. Adding all parts of the agricultural supply chain to the list of transactions reviewed by CFIUS is the first step toward ensuring America’s agricultural suppliers can keep food on tables across the country.”

The FARM Act is a bipartisan, bicameral bill, so it might make its way through the gauntlet of squabbling Congressional parties and factions.


Richard Smoley, contributing editor for Blue Book Services, Inc., has more than 40 years of experience in magazine writing and editing, and is the former managing editor of California Farmer magazine. A graduate of Harvard and Oxford universities, he has published 12 books.