A recent report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reveals that Chinese investors owned almost 384,000 acres of American land at the end of 2021. The area of land owned by Chinese persons and entities is nearly double the size of New York City.
The report, titled “Foreign Ownership and Holdings of U.S. Agricultural Land,” indicates that there are no federal legal restrictions on the amount of private land a foreign entity can own in the country. However, foreign investors who buy, sell, or gain interest in U.S. land must disclose their transactions to the federal government.
The report also stated that several states have different disclosure requirements within their state. However, no state has so far instituted an absolute prohibition on foreign ownership of any real estate.
While their spy balloon is no longer hovering over our homeland, Chinese investments in American property — especially farmland — put our country at risk.
We cannot allow our top adversary a foot in the door to undermine our national security.https://t.co/HFVpX2tBGc
— Coach Tommy Tuberville (@SenTuberville) February 10, 2023
However, some states and counties limit or are working on laws to restrict foreign ownership of interests in agricultural land within their jurisdictions. Counties in Iowa, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin have the most strict limitations on foreign land ownership prohibitions in the U.S.
Foreign entities own approximately 40.8 million acres of U.S. agricultural land, and Chinese investors own about 0.9% of U.S. agricultural land. The land owned by China-related entities has a total value of $2.1 billion.
The report also mentioned that WH Group, a Chinese firm formerly known as Shuanghui International, recently acquired the world’s largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods.
Fufeng Group is a China-based agricultural producer. The company purchased 370 acres of land in North Dakota last year to construct a wet corn mill. However, the city government blocked the project after national security concerns were raised because of the short distance to Grand Forks Air Force Base.
Assistant Air Force Secretary Andrew Hunter sent a letter to Sens. John Hoeven (R-ND) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) discouraging the Fufeng project because of the sensitive military technology and equipment used at Grand Forks.
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) is sponsoring federal legislation designed to include agricultural uses as one factor in national security decisions about allowing foreign real estate investments. The Montana Democrat said, “The bottom line is we don’t want folks from China owning our farmland. It goes against food security, and it goes against national security.”
Eleven state legislatures are now considering laws that would address foreign land ownership. Those include Montana and North Dakota, where another proposed agricultural project by a China-based company has raised concerns with the Air Force.