Rep. Jackson, Sen Tuberville Lead Effort to Protect Ag Industry from Foreign Interference
Washington, January 26, 2023
Tags: National Security , Agriculture
WASHINGTON — Yesterday, Representative Ronny Jackson (R-TX-13), Pete Sessions (R-TX-17), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07), and Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX-34) reintroduced the bipartisan, bicameral Foreign Adversary Risk Management (FARM) Act. This legislation would help protect America’s agricultural industry from malign foreign investors and bolster our supply chain by reforming the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS)—the governmental body that oversees the vetting process of foreign investment and acquisition of American companies. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.
Jackson said: “Today, America faces numerous threats to its national security, and the agricultural industry is no exception. Our adversaries, especially the Chinese Communist Party, continue to increase their presence in America’s food industry and agricultural supply chains. Our national security is dependent on our food security, and we must take significant steps to identify adversaries that are manipulating critical facets of food production in our country. America’s agricultural industry must be considered when determining national security threats from foreign investments moving forward. The protection of our food supply and its overarching supply chains are essential for the continued prosperity of our nation. Together, we will ensure that America’s agricultural industry remains strong and independent from foreign adverse influence.”
Tuberville said: “Over the past few years, we’ve seen an alarming increase in foreign purchases of farm land and food companies, particularly by China. 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.”
Gonzalez said: “Now more than ever, it is important to protect American supply chains. The FARM Act equips us to monitor foreign investment and protect the integrity of our food systems to ensure a food secure future for all Americans. I am proud to be joining my colleagues in a bipartisan manner to protect American agriculture and strengthen our food supply chain.”
Spanberger said: “Direct foreign investment in American agriculture and infrastructure has skyrocketed — and the Chinese Communist Party has driven much of this growth. In the face of significant foreign investment in American farmland, we need to recognize how foreign actors could pose potential threats to our economic strength, the competitiveness of our ag industry, and our national security. By bringing the voice of the Secretary of Agriculture to the table, our FARM Act would bring the concerns of farm families and producers to important conversations about the risks of foreign acquisitions and landholdings. As a Member of the House Agriculture Committee and a Member of Congress focused on threats to our national security, I’m proud to help introduce this bipartisan, commonsense legislation.”
Sessions said: “Foreign investment in the American agriculture industry continues to grow at a rapid pace. A large percentage of this land is owned by Chinese Communist Party (CCP) backed investments, which poses a large national security risk, as it affords China the opportunity to undermine our food and investment industries. The United States farmland is a critical piece of infrastructure and should continue to be recognized as such. Our food insecurity is a matter of national security. The FARM Act will give us the opportunity to better combat maligned foreign investments in agriculture and protect the American people. I am proud to stand next to my fellow members of Congress during this renewed effort to secure American interests.”
Texas Farm Bureau President Russell Boening said: “Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) applauds Sen. Tommy Tuberville and U.S. Congressman Ronny Jackson for introducing the FARM Act,” said TFB President Russell Boening. “As Texas has experienced a surge of foreign investors buying agricultural land, it is critical to provide proper oversight to ensure our national security. We are pleased this bill accomplishes this goal, while in-turn protecting private property rights of landowners who wish to sell their property. TFB appreciates these Congressional leaders for their steadfast leadership on this issue, and we look forward to working with them to secure passage of this bipartisan legislation.”
The bill text can be found here.
Foreign investment in the American agriculture industry has grown at a rapid and dangerous pace, as foreign investors currently control at least 37.6 million acres of agriculture land, valued at $67.7 billion. Texas has the largest amount of foreign-held agricultural land in the U.S. accounting for over 4.7 million acres.
The Communist Party has actively supported investments in foreign agriculture as part of its “One Belt One Road” economic development plans, which they have claimed is an effort to control a greater piece of their food supply chain. This investment has allowed them to develop a large presence in the American food system. This poses a large national security risk as it affords China the opportunity to undermine the entire industry, and it must be stopped.
This bill will help to combat foreign investment into, and interference of, the American agriculture industry by modernizing the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to ensure that we monitor this investment and understand the national security implications.
Specifically, this bill would reform CFIUS by:
· Ensuring CFIUS recognizes the agriculture industry and agriculture supply chains as critical infrastructure,
· Adds the Secretary of Agriculture to CFIUS, and
· Requires CFIUS to review any investment that could result in foreign control of any U.S. agricultural business
Additionally, the bill would require an annual investigation and report on the national security implications of foreign investment into the American agricultural sector by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to Congress, so that we better understand the position for which our agriculture industry stands.
Original cosponsors of the FARM Act include Representatives Jim Costa (D-CA), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Mary Miller (R-IL), Ralph Norman (R-SC), Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL), Rick Crawford (R-AR), Kat Cammack (R-FL), Kevin Hern (R-OK), Brian Babin (R-TX), August Pfluger (R-TX), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Zach Nunn (R-IA), James Baird (R-IN), Troy Nehls (R-TX), Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Chris Stewart (R-UT), Ryan Zinke (R-MT), Ben Cline (R-VA), Michael Guest (R-MS), Jerry Carl (R-AL), Barry Moore (R-AL), John Rose (R-TN), Jake Ellzey (R-TX), Randy Weber (R-TX), Ashley Hinson (R-IA), Pat Fallon (R-TX), James Moylan (R-GU), Brad Finstad (R-MN), Trent Kelly (R-MS), and Randy Feenstra (R-IA).
Original cosponsors in the Senate include Mike Braun (R-IN), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), and Rick Scott (R-FL).