USDA: China Owns Nearly 400,000 Acres Of American Farmland

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced this week that the Chinese nationals control significant farm acreage within the United States as lawmakers weigh potential restrictions on such ownership.

According to the USDA, an area nearly twice the size of New York City is owned by Chinese citizens.

While foreign owners of American land must disclose such real estate purchases to the federal government, the practice of owning American land by non-citizens is not restricted in Washington.

The present concern over Chinese ownership of American farmland is not new, but it is growing.

Over the last decade, Chinese farmland holdings in the U.S. increased by more than 2000%. In 2020, these holdings totaled $1.8 billion in value.

Furthermore, Beijing has often directly subsidized such purchases. The state-run Bank of China loaned $4 billion to a company to buy one of the largest food processors in the United States, Smithfield Foods. The resulting deal gives the Chinese company, WH Group, significant control over a critical part of American farm infrastructure.

In 2022, a small North Dakota city rejected a purchase by a Chinese company of prime farmland near an American military base. The potential $700 million purchase twelve miles away from the base raised concerns. Some Republicans in Congress described the possible purchase of farmland near Grand Forks Air Force base as a potential national security risk.

The USDA announcement follows discussions among lawmakers about a possible ban on Chinese companies or citizens from owning American land.

On the federal level, several members of Congress want restrictions on the ownership of farmland by Chinese nationals.

Congress is joined by 11 state legislatures currently weighing similar restrictions, as well as several states that already have limitations.

Fourteen states currently have restrictions on foreign ownership, with Texas banning ownership of infrastructure within the state by countries deemed hostile to the United States, including China. Republicans in the Texas state legislature desire an expansion of this ban to include land purchases.

Recent tensions surrounding the Chinese spy balloon increase the chance that Congress or individual states pass further restrictive measures against Beijing.

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