More than 100 House Republicans are asking a government watchdog to probe foreign investments in U.S. farmland, including those by China, which they say may present national and food security concerns.
Led by Reps. Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania and James Comer of Kentucky, the lawmakers on Saturday called on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study foreign farmland ownership and how the U.S. government is monitoring acquisitions, a letter shows. There has been an uptick in foreign investments and ownership, which may be “underreported” due to the U.S. Agriculture Department’s (USDA) unreliable data, the Republicans say.
The Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act of 1978 requires foreigners with U.S. land to disclose holdings with USDA’s Farm Service Agency. USDA’s data has been found in the last several years to not fully cover foreign investments.
Foreign investment and ownership of U.S. agricultural land has roughly doubled between 2010 and 2020, the Republicans noted in their letter. Foreign investors were also found in a December 2020 USDA report to hold about 37.6 million acres of agricultural land in the U.S.