EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., unveiled new legislation on Tuesday aimed at stopping Chinese corporations and entities linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from buying up U.S. farmland.
Hawley’s “This Land is Our Land Act” would force Beijing-backed businesses to divest their interest in U.S. agricultural land and prevent more from buying acreage. The senator is introducing it against the backdrop of bipartisan concern over China’s growing economic influence abroad, including in the United States.
“No Chinese corporation or individual associated with the CCP should be permitted to own American farmland. It undermines the integrity of our nation’s food supply chain, it presents national security threats when the land is in proximity to military installations, and it hurts American farmers,’ Hawley told Fox News Digital.
Multiple lawmakers, many from the Midwest, have shared national security concerns over China’s purchases of vast tracts of farmland. Not only have attempted purchases by Chinese groups raised alarms for being close to areas of sensitive military activity, they’ve also spurred fears about Beijing’s control over the U.S. food supply.
Hawley’s bill would prohibit corporations backed by China from acquiring or leasing agricultural land in the U.S. as well as similar deals by people or groups linked to the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
No later than one year after the bill’s passage, Chinese entities with existing leases or stakes of interest would be forced to sign a “letter of intent” to signal that they will part from those assets, according to the bill text obtained first by Fox News Digital.
If they don’t divest within two years, they risk facing fines and criminal penalties – as well as the threat of asset forfeiture.
Nearly 1% of all U.S. agricultural land had been bought by China as of the end of 2021, according to a Congressional Research Service report released earlier this year – that’s roughly 383,935 acres.
Between 2009 and 2016 alone, China’s international holdings in agriculture, fisheries and forestry soared in value from $300 million to $3.3 billion, according to the USDA.
Hawley, one of the Senate’s top China hawks, previously signaled that he’d introduce a bill on China’s farmland purchases just days after a U.S. fighter plane shot down a suspected surveillance balloon from Beijing – but not before it traversed much of the United States at a low enough altitude to be seen by the naked eye and unnerved millions of Americans.
“What is abundantly clear after Biden’s Chinese spying debacle is that no Chinese corporation should be permitted to own American farmland. I’m introducing legislation to stop it. Protect American farmers,” the Missouri senator wrote on Twitter on Feb. 7.