A congresswoman from Texas has introduced legislation aimed at preventing foreign adversaries, particularly China, from buying U.S. farmland.
Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-Texas), a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, introduced the legislation on June 9. Known as the Protecting American Farmland Act (H.R.3996), the bill would amend the U.S. tax code, preventing undisclosed purchases of American farmland in connection with a 60 percent exercise tax imposed on “country of concern” buyers.
“China is relentlessly trying to undermine our country—whether it’s poisoning our citizens with fentanyl smuggled in through our southern border, spying on us, or filling the global stage that has been left empty by the Biden Administration,” Van Duyne said in a statement accompanying the bill’s introduction.
She added, “American farmland—especially here in Texas—is the new frontline in our fight against the Chinese Communist Party’s aggressions. I’m glad to join Chairman Jason Smith in introducing this bill to keep our farmland from enemy hands, protecting our nation’s farmers, supply chains, and security.”
According to the language of the bill (pdf), a “country of concern” is defined as any nation that “is engaged in long-term pattern or serious instances of conduct significantly adverse to the national security of the United States.”
The bill names China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela under socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro as countries of concern.
China owned 383,935 acres of U.S. agricultural land as of the end of 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (pdf). While that’s only 0.9 percent of the total foreign-held land at the time, the reported acreage has increased by more than 50 percent from the end of 2018 (pdf), Duyne said.
“We must protect America’s agricultural resources from being snatched up by foreign adversaries and companies under their control,” said Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith (R-Mo.) said in a statement.
“To prevent the Chinese Communist Party and other hostile foreign governments from staking claim to U.S. farmland, Representative Van Duyne’s bill expands an existing tax on foreign land sales and ratchets up the applicable tax rate by 400 percent,” Smith added. “By protecting our agricultural land, we will increase our food and economic security.”
In recent months, other bills have been introduced in the House and the Senate to block China from buying U.S. farmland.