GOP, Dem senators team up with bill to protect US farmland from foreign ownership

FIRST ON FOX: Two Midwestern senators from both sides of the aisle are teaming up to crack down on China and foreign countries that are buying up American farmland. The lawmakers have brought forth new legislation that aims to give citizens and Congress a “clearer picture of who owns America’s heartland.” On Wednesday, Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, introduced bipartisan legislation that calls for additional “transparency and oversight” of foreign ownership in America’s agricultural industry. The Farmland Security Act of 2023 aims to “support transparency, collect complete and accurate data on foreign ownership, and better understand the scale and impact of foreign ownership.” The legislation will ensure all foreign investors who purchase American agricultural land will report their holdings, including “shell companies.” The legislation will thus strengthen penalties for those who evade filing.  “Our agricultural economy is the beating heart of Wisconsin’s rural communities. But when foreign investors own farmland and agricultural processing capacity, it can put our national security, domestic food supply, and local communities at risk,” Baldwin said in a statement. 100 ENERGY, FARM INDUSTRY GROUPS LINE UP AGAINST BIDEN’S GAS VEHICLE CRACKDOWN “The Farmland Security Act of 2023 will give the American public and Congress a clearer picture of who owns America’s heartland, while also investing in critical research to better understand how foreign ownership is impacting our rural communities, family farms, and national security.” Proposals in the bill include: imposing new financial penalties on foreign owners or “shell companies” who do not report or misreport their acreage; requiring research into foreign ownership and foreign participation in U.S. agricultural economic activity; and pushing for the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to conduct an annual compliance audit to “ensure accuracy” while also providing annual training to state and county staff “on identifying non-reporting foreign-owned agricultural land.” REPUBLICANS ACCELERATE INVESTIGATION INTO FOREIGN INFLUENCE OF US CLIMATE GROUPS, ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY “The world’s best farmland is located in America,” Grassley said a statement. “Our foreign competitors recognize this and continue to invest in American agricultural land, increasing competition for young and beginning farmers and threatening our national security.” “Our bill gives Congress and the American people the resources to closely monitor these foreign sales in order to assess the risks they pose,” he added. The measure will also invest in research to “better understand the impact foreign ownership of American farmland and agricultural production capacity has on our domestic food supply, family farms, and rural communities.” The 2023 legislation is an extension of the Farmland Security Act proposed by the senators last year. It was signed into law as part of the fiscal year 2023 omnibus appropriations bill, which requires the USDA to address national security concerns over foreign-owned farmland. This includes changes such as transitioning to digital filings on foreign ownership data to further prompt research into such ownership trends. The Farmland Security Act of 2023 is supported by Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation and Wisconsin Farmers Union. Julie Keown-Bomar, executive director of the Wisconsin Farmers Union, called the bill a “step in the right direction,” saying, “Knowing who is purchasing farmland is a form of national security.”
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