House Ag member bill would help protect American Ag from Foreign Interference, including from the Chinese Communist Party
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger — the only Virginian on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee — on Jan. 25, 2023, led a bicameral, bipartisan effort to protect America’s ag industry from improper foreign investment — including from entities backed by the Chinese Communist Party.
As first reported in the Wall Street Journal, the bipartisan bill would strengthen the U.S. agriculture industry’s role on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the governmental body that oversees the vetting process of foreign investment and acquisition of American companies. Currently, the Committee does not directly consider the needs of the agriculture industry when reviewing foreign investment and ownership in domestic businesses.
Spanberger’s Foreign Adversary Risk Management (FARM) Act would make sure that CFIUS acknowledges the importance of America’s ag industry and ag supply chains for a safe and secure nationwide food supply. Specifically, it would add the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary as a Member of CFIUS.
“Direct foreign investment in American agriculture and infrastructure has skyrocketed — and the Chinese Communist Party has driven much of this growth,” said Spanberger. “In the face of significant foreign investment in American farmland, we need to recognize how foreign actors could pose potential threats to our economic strength, the competitiveness of our ag industry, and our national security. By bringing the voice of the Secretary of Agriculture to the table, our FARM Act would bring the concerns of farm families and producers to important conversations about the risks of foreign acquisitions and landholdings. As a Member of the House Agriculture Committee and a Member of Congress focused on threats to our national security, I’m proud to help introduce this bipartisan, commonsense legislation.”
Spanberger introduced the FARM Act alongside U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) and U.S. Representatives Ronny Jackson (R-TX-13), Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX-34), and Pete Sessions (R-TX-17).
“Over the past few years, we’ve seen an alarming increase in foreign purchases of farm land and food companies, particularly by China,” said Tuberville. “These foreign investments are now reaching every piece of the very large puzzle that makes up our agriculture industry, from farming and processing, to packaging and shipping. That’s why America’s agriculture community needs to have a permanent seat at the table when our government vets foreign investment in our country. Adding all parts of the agricultural supply chain to the list of transactions reviewed by CFIUS is the first step toward ensuring America’s agricultural suppliers can keep food on tables across the country.”
“Today, America faces numerous threats to its national security, and the agricultural industry is no exception,” said Jackson. “Our adversaries, especially the Chinese Communist Party, continue to increase their presence in America’s food industry and agricultural supply chains. Our national security is dependent on our food security, and we must take significant steps to identify adversaries that are manipulating critical facets of food production in our country. America’s agricultural industry must be considered when determining national security threats from foreign investments moving forward. The protection of our food supply and its overarching supply chains are essential for the continued prosperity of our nation. Together, we will ensure that America’s agricultural industry remains strong and independent from foreign adverse influence.”
“Foreign investment in the American agriculture industry continues to grow at a rapid pace,” said Sessions. “A large percentage of this land is owned by Chinese Communist Party (CCP) backed investments, which poses a large national security risk, as it affords China the opportunity to undermine our food and investment industries. The United States farmland is a critical piece of infrastructure and should continue to be recognized as such. Our food insecurity is a matter of national security. The FARM Actwill give us the opportunity to better combat maligned foreign investments in agriculture and protect the American people. I am proud to stand next to my fellow members of Congress during this renewed effort to secure American interests.”
“Now more than ever, it is important to protect American supply chains,” said Gonzalez. “The FARM Act equips us to monitor foreign investment and protect the integrity of our food systems to ensure a food secure future for all Americans. I am proud to be joining my colleagues in a bipartisan manner to protect American agriculture and strengthen our food supply chain.”
The FARM Act would also require a report to Congress on current and potential foreign investments in the U.S. agricultural industry from the USDA and Government Accountability Office.
Original cosponsors in the U.S. Senate include U.S. Senators Mike Braun (R-IN), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), and Rick Scott (R-FL).
Original cosponsors in the U.S. House include U.S. Representatives Jim Costa (D-CA-21), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-19), Mary Miller (R-IL-15), Ralph Norman (R-SC-05), Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL-27), Rick Crawford (R-AR-01), Kat Cammack (R-FL-03), Kevin Hern (R-OK-01), Brian Babin (R-TX-36), August Pfluger (R-TX-11), Darrell Issa (R-CA-48), Zach Nunn (R-IA-03), James Baird (R-IN-04), Troy Nehls (R-TX-22), Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Chris Stewart (R-UT-02), Ryan Zinke (R-MT-01), Ben Cline (R-VA-06), Michael Guest (R-MS-03), Jerry Carl (R-AL-01), Barry Moore (R-AL-02), John Rose (R-TN-06), Jake Ellzey (R-TX-06), Randy Weber (R-TX-14), Ashley Hinson (R-IA-02), Pat Fallon (R-TX-04), James Moylan (R-GU), and Randy Feenstra (R-IA-04).