(ConservativeInsider.org) – In 2020, foreign investors acquired over three million acres of U.S. farmland, constituting nearly two percent of the total land in the United States. Recent government data reveals that foreigners now own or lease this land.
A report released this month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that “foreign individuals expressed interest in over 40 million acres of U.S. farmland as of December 31, 2022.” This marks a significant increase of 3.4 million acres from the previous year, accounting for 3.4 percent of all privately owned farmland and almost 2 percent of all land in the United States.
In recent years, foreign countries have shown a growing interest in U.S. farmland, mainly driven by wind energy farms under foreign control. The USDA notes that foreign holdings of U.S. agricultural land experienced a modest increase from 2012 through 2017. However, since 2017, foreign holdings have been growing at an average annual rate of nearly 2.9 million acres. The countries with the largest holdings include Saudi Arabia, Russia, Egypt, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and Pakistan.
Bipartisan concern has heightened due to Congress removing provisions targeting foreign land purchases in a recent defense bill. National security worries have intensified, notably when a Chinese food manufacturer acquired 300 acres near a crucial Air Force base in North Dakota.
Attempts to restrict Russia, North Korea, Iran, and China from buying farmland were made, resulting in the Senate passing an amendment to the Defense Funding Act. Unfortunately, these provisions were omitted from the final bill text, raising additional concerns.
Permitting foreign nations, including adversaries like China, to acquire American farmland raises significant concerns about national security and the welfare of American farmers. As many farmers approach retirement age, there is an increasing threat that this trend will escalate. The Senate Committee on Agriculture conducted a hearing on the matter, during which one senator asserted that U.S. adversaries should not possess any agricultural land in the country.
The growing trend of foreigners buying U.S. farmland raises concerns about food security, environmental impact, and national security. Although steps have been taken to tackle this issue, more action is necessary to ensure that foreign land ownership is managed to protect U.S. interests.
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