Blackburn, Tuberville Lead Effort to Protect Ag Industry from Foreign Interference
February 24, 2023
U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) introduced bipartisan legislation to protect America’s agricultural industry from improper foreign investment.
Over the past few years, the United States has experienced a rapid increase in foreign investment in the agricultural sector, particularly from China. We must increase oversight and transparency to secure our country’s food supply. The Foreign Adversary Risk Management (FARM) Act will bolster the U.S. agricultural industry’s role on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the governmental body that oversees the vetting process of foreign investment and acquisition of American companies.
“Communist China is working hard to infiltrate every major U.S. sector, and the agricultural industry is no exception. We’ve already seen Beijing threaten to withhold critical lifesaving medications from the U.S. during the peak of COVID, and we cannot allow them to have that same grip on our food supply chain. This legislation takes a significant step to bolster America’s agricultural industry and help protect against improper foreign investment,” said Senator Blackburn.
“Over the past few years, we’ve seen an alarming increase in foreign purchases of farm land and food companies, particularly by China,” said Senator Tuberville. “These foreign investments are now reaching every piece of the very large puzzle that makes up our agriculture industry, from farming and processing, to packaging and shipping. That’s why America’s agriculture community needs to have a permanent seat at the table when our government vets foreign investment in our country. Adding all parts of the agricultural supply chain to the list of transactions reviewed by CFIUS is the first step toward ensuring America’s agricultural suppliers can keep food on tables across the country.”
In the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressmen Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas), Pete Sessions (R-Texas), and Abigail Spanberger (D-Virginia) introduced similar legislation.
“Today, America faces numerous threats to its national security, and the agricultural industry is no exception,” said Representative Jackson. “Our adversaries, especially the Chinese Communist Party, continue to increase their presence in America’s food industry and agricultural supply chains. Our national security is dependent on our food security, and we must take significant steps to identify adversaries that are manipulating critical facets of food production in our country. America’s agricultural industry must be considered when determining national security threats from foreign investments moving forward. The protection of our food supply and its overarching supply chains are essential for the continued prosperity of our nation. Together, we will ensure that America’s agricultural industry remains strong and independent from foreign adverse influence.”
“Foreign investment in the American agriculture industry continues to grow at a rapid pace,” said Representative Sessions. “A large percentage of this land is owned by Chinese Communist Party (CCP) backed investments, which poses a large national security risk, as it affords China the opportunity to undermine our food and investment industries. The United States farmland is a critical piece of infrastructure and should continue to be recognized as such. Our food insecurity is a matter of national security. The FARM Act will give us the opportunity to better combat maligned foreign investments in agriculture and protect the American people. I am proud to stand next to my fellow members of Congress during this renewed effort to secure American interests.”
“Direct foreign investment in American agriculture and infrastructure has skyrocketed — and the Chinese Communist Party has driven much of this growth,” said Representative Spanberger. “In the face of significant foreign investment in American farmland, we need to recognize how foreign actors could pose potential threats to our economic strength, the competitiveness of our ag industry, and our national security. By bringing the voice of the Secretary of Agriculture to the table, our FARM Act would bring the concerns of farm families and producers to important conversations about the risks of foreign acquisitions and landholdings. As a Member of the House Agriculture Committee and a Member of Congress focused on threats to our national security, I’m proud to help introduce this bipartisan, commonsense legislation.”
“Now more than ever, it is important to protect American supply chains,” said Representative Gonzalez. “The FARM Act equips us to monitor foreign investment and protect the integrity of our food systems to ensure a food secure future for all Americans. I am proud to be joining my colleagues in a bipartisan manner to protect American agriculture and strengthen our food supply chain.”
The Foreign Adversary Risk Management (FARM) Act is a bipartisan, bicameral bill that would ensure the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) acknowledges the importance of our agricultural industry and agricultural supply chains for our nation's safe and secure food supply.
CFIUS is authorized to oversee and review foreign investment and ownership in domestic businesses as it relates to national security. Currently, the Committee does not directly consider the needs of the agricultural industry when reviewing foreign investment and ownership in domestic businesses.
Specifically, the Foreign Adversary Risk Management (FARM) Act would:
- Add the Secretary of Agriculture as a member to CFIUS
- Add language to protect the U.S. agricultural industry from foreign control through transactions, mergers, acquisitions, or agreements designate agricultural supply chains as critical infrastructure and critical technologies
- Report to Congress on current and potential foreign investments in the U.S. agricultural industry from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Government Accountability Office (GAO)