U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia is leading a bicameral, bipartisan effort to protect America’s agricultural industry from improper foreign investment.
The only Virginian on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, Spanberger joined Republicans yesterday in introducing legislation to bring the voice of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture into discussions to protect American industries against entities backed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The Committee on Foreign Investment of the United States (CFIUS) does not currently consider the needs of America’s ag industry when reviewing foreign investments and ownership in American businesses. The Foreign Adversary Risk Management (FARM) Act would strengthen the U.S. agriculture industry’s role on the committee, and make sure the committee acknowledges the importance of America’s ag industry and ag supply chains for a safe and secure nationwide food supply. Specifically, the bill would add the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary as a Member of the committee.
Spanberger introduced the FARM Act with U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, and U.S. Reps. Ronny Jackson of Texas, Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, and Pete Sessions of Texas. Virginia’s Ben Cline is an original co-sponsor of the bill in the House of Representatives.
“Direct foreign investment in American agriculture and infrastructure has skyrocketed — and the Chinese Communist Party has driven much of this growth,” Spanberger said. “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.”
According to Tuberville, “an alarming increase in foreign purchases of farm land and food companies, particularly by China” has been seen in the U.S.
“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,” Tuberville said. “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.”
Under the FARM Act, a report from the USDA and the Government Accountability Office to Congress would be required on current and potential foreign investments in the U.S. ag industry.
“Today, America faces numerous threats to its national security, and the agricultural industry is no exception,” Jackson said. “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.”
Sessions said foreign investments in the American ag industry continue to grow rapidly.
“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,” Sessions said. “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 Act will 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.”
Gonzalez said protecting American supply chains is more important now than ever.
“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,” Gonzalez said.