US Senator introduces bill to prohibit Chinese investment in agribusiness
Senator Mike Rounds said "Protecting American farmland is critical to maintaining our national security... I was concerned when a Chinese company recently bought farmland close to an Air Force base in North Dakota because I am a senator on the committee overseeing the armed services."
A US Senator introduced legislation in the Senate to "blacklist China" from investing in, buying, or in any other way acquiring land or businesses involved in agriculture after a Chinese company bought farmland close to an Air Force base in North Dakota.
Senator Mike Rounds, a Republican from South Dakota, stated in front of the Senate, "Protecting American farmland is critical to maintaining our national security... I was concerned when a Chinese company recently bought farmland close to an Air Force base in North Dakota because I am a senator on the committee overseeing the armed services.
Senator Rounds noted on his website that this new legislation will also bar investment in US agribusiness from Russia, Iran, and North Korea. According to a report cited by the New York Post, the China-based Fufeng Group bought 300 acres of farmland close to Grand Forks, North Dakota, a rural region that is about 90 minutes' drive from the Canadian border.
Rounds argued that by enabling China to closely monitor the activities and communications at a crucial military facility, this acquisition by a Chinese company might pose a risk to national security.
Senator Rounds continued, "I've heard from many farmers and ranchers in South Dakota who are worried about foreign adversaries owning American farmland. It's time to stop this and do something about it. This legislation ensures that American interests are safeguarded by prohibiting foreign adversaries from acquiring land or agricultural businesses.
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Rep. Elise Stefanik introduced the Promoting Agriculture Safeguards and Security Act in the House on July 1. Key elements of the House version are retained in Rounds' legislation, which also adds new language about foreign investments, buying agricultural land, and reporting by the Secretary of Agriculture.
The Chinese firm that purchased the farmland near Grand Forks is also 40 miles from Grafton, North Dakota, where, according to the New York Post, a limited liability company thought to be under the control of billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates recently paid USD 13 million for thousands of acres of potato farmland, raising concerns among the community.
According to Fufeng Group, it intends to use the property to construct a 700 million dollar corn milling plant that will result in the creation of at least 200 jobs as well as ongoing opportunities for logistics, trucking, and other services.
Although Grand Forks has only 60,000 residents, the US Senior Air Force officers issued a memo in April cautioning that the presence of Fufeng Group there posed a threat to national security. According to US Air Force Major Jeremy Fox, "some of the most sensitive elements of Grand Forks exist with the digital uplinks and downlinks inherent with unmanned air systems and their interaction with space-based assets."