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Growing Concerns of Farmland Purchases by China

by | Jan 26, 2023 | 30x30, Conservation Easements, Farmers and Ranchers, Issues | 0 comments

The purchase of farmland near North Dakota’s Grand Forks Air Force Base by the Chinese manufacturer Fufeng Group late last year, seems to have finally ignited serious opposition from lawmakers.

Texas Republican Congressman Chip Roy (TX-21), introduced the “Securing America’s Land from Foreign Interference Act” to prevent the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from owning land in the United States.

A statement from Roy’s office about the legislation reads the Act “…will ensure that United States land never comes under the control of the CCP by prohibiting the purchase of U.S. public or private real estate by any members of the CCP or any entity under the control or influence of the CCP.”

“There is no reason we should allow one of our greatest adversaries- the Chinese Communist Party – to buy up land in the United States.  China is not our friend; they want to dominate us and destroy our way of life; we need to wake up and start acting like it,” Roy added.

In 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released data showing Chinese owners controlled about 195,000 acres of land in the U.S. worth close to $1.9 billion.  The same report estimated nearly 40 million acres of U.S. farmland, roughly the size of the state of Ohio, are controlled by foreign investors.

On September 25, 2022, 51 Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Biden’s three cabinet secretaries Austin, Yellen, and Vilsack warning that the Fufeng purchase was “an alarming development for our national security.”

The lawmakers wrote: “…the Grand Forks Air Force Base has exceptional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, making the recently purchased land the ideal location to closely monitor and intercept military activity…and “will have potential…to perpetrate espionage…under commercial cover or auspices.”   

They also stated the trend of buying farmland by hostile foreign governments will create “negative implications and threats to our U.S. domestic food production and national food security.”

The Fufeng Group paid $2.3 million to purchase just 300 acres of land 12 miles from the Air Force Base.  They intend to invest $700 million to open a mill leading to the speculation the operation could easily be used for spying on the U.S. military.

In Texas, a wind energy project near Del Rio was nixed by the state of Texas when it was revealed the 130,000-acre plot was only miles from the Laughlin Air Force Base, where pilots are trained.  GH America Energy, the company that wanted the land, is owned by a Chinese billionaire who served in the Chinese military and has deep ties to the CCP.   

Roy’s bill was timed with the creation of a new committee by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-CA, to examine U.S. strategic competition with China and “investigate and submit policy recommendations on the status of the Chinese Communist Party’s economic, technological, and security progress and its competition with the United States.”

All this is welcome news as more of the land in our nation is being grabbed not only by hostile foreign governments, but by our own government and national and international land trusts.