Owning land is a powerful investment for an individual or a government. Nations have fought wars across centuries over land that was rich for farming or development.
One of the United States’ most sought-after resources is the vast amounts of private lands from coast to coast. Foreign nations for decades have worked to gain access to this valuable resource.
One of America’s most powerful foreign adversaries has found a way. Flying under the radar, China now has control of swaths of U.S. farmland. And the federal government isn’t doing anything about it.
An internal investigation has found that Joe Biden’s administration is failing to track foreign ownership of U.S. farmland, after it was recently discovered that the second-largest foreign landowner is a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) member.
Government failures continue with the Department of Agriculture (USDA) not consistently sharing timely data on foreign investments in farmland as required under the law. An investigation by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) exposed the failure by the Biden administration.
For almost half a century, the U.S. Congress ordered the federal government to track this information. The GAO report found that the USDA is not in compliance with the 1978 Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act (AFIDA). The act requires the government to log information into a database to follow foreign land investors and include this as part of an annual report to Congress.
Failure to report this data has created “potential national security risks,” according to the GAO report. The USDA has a “flawed” data tracking system, the GAO stated, and it is not possible for the agency to report “reliable information to Congress or the public about where and how much U.S. agricultural land is held by foreign persons.”
The explosive GAO report was prompted after the USDA “estimated” foreign investment in American agricultural land had ballooned to “approximately 40 million acres in 2021.” The GAO warned that some of this foreign-owned land may be close to sensitive military installations.
CCP-connected ownership has been growing for years. The most notable example is how Chinese billionaire Tianqiao Chen, a CCP member, stayed under the federal government’s radar for nearly a decade. He is credited as the second-largest foreign owner of U.S. farmland.
Reports show that in 2015 Chen acquired 198,000 acres of Oregon at $430 per acre land from Fidelity National Financial Ventures for $85 million. The tract is currently owned by Shanda Asset Management LLC, Chen’s company.
In that timeframe, Chen’s company purchased the land under the Obama administration and it remained hidden through the Trump and Biden administrations until now. Members of Congress are calling for accountability for these types of land purchases.
“Communist China is purchasing U.S. agricultural land to subvert our sovereignty, undermine our agriculture industry, encroach on our military installations, and upend America’s rural communities,” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) said.
China has continued to expand its influence into the U.S. through social influencing technology such as the TikTok app, funding research at U.S. college campuses, and side-stepping any U.S. laws regarding foreign ownership of U.S. farmland.
Congress should unify on this topic and force adherence by the USDA and any presidential administration to the laws to protect U.S. sovereignty. As Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) said in a statement. “Food security is national security, and we cannot allow foreign adversaries to influence our food supply while we stick our heads in the sand.”
- The Biden administration has been exposed for allowing foreign purchases of farmland.
- The Government Accountability Office found 40 million acres are owned by foreigners.
- Republicans want federal agencies to follow the law and protect U.S. soil sovereignty.