Nonpartisan alliance of legislators takes action to stop foreigners and corporations from acquiring US farmland.

Nonpartisan alliance of legislators takes action to stop foreigners and corporations from acquiring US farmland.

Legislators from both sides of the aisle have taken action to restrict the purchasing of American farmland, introducing and passing legislation that makes it challenging, if not impossible, for corporations and foreign nations to do so.

Concerns over hostile nations using farmland for malicious purposes, and billionaires outbidding local farmers to acquire large tracts and establish monopolies, have grown in recent years, prompting the government to intervene.

As reported by Reuters, one of the advocates pushing for stricter regulations on farmland ownership in the United States is New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. On Thursday, he introduced the Farm Land for Farmers Act, which aims to prohibit almost all corporations, pension funds, and investment funds from purchasing or leasing agricultural land.

Booker warned against the trend of corporations treating farmland acquisition as an “investment strategy,” emphasizing the importance of preserving such plots for those who genuinely need them.

Data from the United States Department of Agriculture shows that in 1993, “fewer than 32,500 non-family-held corporations owned farmland, comprising less than 5 percent of all US farmland.” However, by 2014, this figure had risen to 10 percent.

This surge in corporate ownership has coincided with a significant spike in farmland costs, witnessing a 75 percent increase to $3,800 per acre since 2008.

Foreign ownership of US farmland has also raised major concerns, with countries like China acquiring large plots. In response, the Senate recently passed the Promoting Agriculture Safeguards and Security Act, amending the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024 to prohibit China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea from buying farmland in the US.

This legislation was spearheaded by a bipartisan coalition of congress members, and it was shepherded through the Senate by Senators Mike Rounds (Republican) and Jon Tester (Democrat).

Representative Elise Stefanik expressed support for the legislation, emphasizing the need to prevent adversaries from controlling land near military installations and safeguarding the interests of American farmers.

Recent reports indicate that China holds less than 1 percent of all foreign-owned farmland in the US, while Canada controls 31 percent.

Many states, particularly in the Midwest, already prohibit foreign ownership, while in other states, the practice is allowed.