House Hearing Scheduled On China’s Threat To US Agriculture

A congressional hearing is scheduled for this week that will investigate China’s potential threat to U.S. agriculture based on increasing foreign ownership of American farmland.

The House Committee on Agriculture will discuss the perceived threat posed by China concerning a multitude of issues including foreign ownership of agricultural land, intellectual property theft and the hacking of U.S. cyber infrastructure.

“It’s no secret that China poses significant threats to our way of life, agriculture is no exception. We’ve seen China steal our intellectual property, hack our cyber infrastructure and buy up American farmland,” said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA).

“We will look to every available legislative vehicle, including the farm bill, to stop China in its tracks and strengthen our food and national security,” he added.

The hearing will include testimony from South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) whose state, under her watch, has enacted strict measures to prevent foreign ownership of farmland in South Dakota.

“China is aggressively purchasing land and purchasing property close to our strategic national areas that will house our greatest weapons, and we are going to ensure that, in South Dakota, that never happens,” Noem remarked at a bill signing event on March 4.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report in January showing that foreign investment in U.S. agricultural land grew to about 40 million acres in 2021, or about 2.9 million acres per year since 2017.

According to the GAO, this explosive growth poses “national security risks—such as when foreign interests buy land near U.S. military installations.”

The GAO also found that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not share timely data on those foreign purchases of agricultural land, making it more difficult to see the possibility of national security risks.

The GAO conducted its review after Thompson and House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-KY) led a group of 130 House Republicans to request a probe in October 2022.

“Growing foreign ownership of U.S. farmland, particularly by China, poses a direct threat to our food security and national security,” Thompson and Comer said in a joint statement in January.