Baldwin, Grassley introduce ag land foreign ownership bill
Legislation introduced Thursday would bring more scrutiny and better tracking of foreign farmland ownership.
Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin says she worked with Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley to introduce the Farmland Security Act Thursday. She says, “It requires the Secretary to report to Congress on foreign investments in agricultural land including the impact foreign ownership has on farm families and rural communities.”
Baldwin says farmlands are one of our greatest assets but, “Currently, we just don’t have a full understanding of how much of America’s heartland is foreign-owned.”
Now, Baldwin says varying state and federal regulations exist on foreign land ownership, but they don’t have a handle on how much land is foreign-owned and by who. “The USDA does require foreign investors to disclose their purchases of domestic agricultural land but USDA has admitted that they don’t really investigate when companies evade that filing requirement.”
Baldwin says the bill addresses ag land ownership but does not address foreign ownership of ag-related businesses. She also says the U.S. currently doesn’t have many options for going after violators that don’t properly report land purchases.
Baldwin says, for example, China owns about one-half of a percent of the 35.8 million acres of farm and forest land in the U.S., or about 179 thousand acres.
If passed, the Farmland Security Act would require the Secretary of Agriculture to report to Congress on foreign investments in agricultural land, including the impact foreign ownership has on family farms, rural communities, and the domestic food supply. The Secretary would also have to publish all prior year disclosures of foreign investments in U.S. ag land on an interactive public database with real-time updates for new entries.