Hearing Held Over Foreign Farmland Ownership

Market to Market | Clip
Sep 29, 2023 | 2 min

Hearing Held Over Foreign Farmland Ownership


The Senate passed a continuing resolution to keep the government open this week while the House approved some spending bills but as of this taping Friday, no deal has been reached to keep the government open past Saturday night.

The Senate agriculture committee did hold a hearing on the issue of U.S. farmland ownership.

More than a dozen states have enacted some legislation on this very topic in 2023.

But as the committee heard, the nationality of the biggest landowners is already in North America.  

Here is Peter Tubbs with this report. 

The Senate Agriculture Committee met  Wednesday to discuss the rate of purchases of farmland by foreign entities and questioned witnesses over the security risks of American farmland being owned by the Chinese government.

While only 3 percent of the 1 billion acres of American farmland are owned by foreign interests, roughly the size of the state of Iowa, that percentage has increased 50 percent in the last 10 years. Most of the foreign owners reside in Canada and Europe.

Less than 1 percent of the foreign owned land is under Chinese control, with Smithfield Foods holding 80 percent of China’s share.

In accordance with the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act of 1978, the Department of Agriculture collects data on land ownership, but the reporting process is voluntary.

Gloria Montano-Greene, USDA: “We've been working to address consolidation efforts and have a collaboration with attorney general throughout the country to be able to address that. With regards to AFIDA, AFIDA itself is a disclosure act, and that is the authority that we have. USDA does not have the authority to approve or decline purchases of land, domestic or foreign.” 

Experts testified that while China has significant investments in American agriculture, farmland has not been a target.

Dr. David Ortega, Michigan State University: “By and large, China's foreign investments in farmland have bypassed North America. They're really looking at acquiring agribusinesses like Smithfield. We saw ChemChina's takeover of Syngenta, and this is to exert more control over their import food supply chain. And I do foresee there being additional investments in this regard. But when it comes to actual American farmland, it's not something that I would consider as part of their current foreign investment strategy in agriculture.”

For Market to Market, I’m Peter Tubbs