Saturday 20 January 2024

Report Finds Major Flaws With How Government Tracks Foreign Ownership Of Farmland

 A report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that there were major flaws in the government’s tracking of foreign land purchases, exposing the United States to national security risks.

The report, which was requested by the House Oversight and Accountability Committee and the House Committee on Agriculture, said that the Department of Agriculture does “not share timely data on foreign investments in agricultural land,” and that the processes in place for sharing the data are complex and difficult to understand.

Lawmakers have raised concerns about Chinese ownership of American farmland, especially land that is near to U.S. military installations.

Foreign investment in American land increased in 2021 to about 40 million acres, according to USDA estimates. “These investments may have consequences for U.S. national security. For example, there may be foreign ownership of U.S. agricultural land close to sensitive military installations,” the GAO said.

There have been growing efforts at the state level to prevent foreign ownership of land near the military bases and calls for action at the federal level.

“Growing foreign ownership of U.S. farmland, particularly by China, poses a direct threat to our food security and national security. Safeguarding our farmland and food supply requires a whole of government approach and we will continue to work with the impacted agencies, related committees, and leadership to continue our robust oversight and to identify legislative vehicles to address the findings of the GAO report,” Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) and Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn Thompson (R-PA) said in response to the release of the report.

According to the report, the processes the USDA uses “to collect, track, and report key information are flawed.” Defense Department officials also told the GAO that they need information “that is more up-to-date and more specific, and they need to receive this information more than once a year.”


The report listed several recommendations for the USDA to take to improve their reporting system, including establishing a more timely process to report foreign investments and updating the forms used to report the data.

“This report confirms one of our worst fears: that not only is the USDA unable to answer the question of who owns what land and where, but that there is no plan by the department to internally reverse this dangerous flaw that affects our supply chain and economy. Food security is national security, and we cannot allow foreign adversaries to influence our food supply while we stick our heads in the sand,” Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) said in response to the report’s release.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) urged Congress to pass legislation he proposed that would prohibit Chinese Communist Party members or entities from buying American land.

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