Four Republican members of Alabama's congressional delegation are scrutinizing an increase in foreign buyers of agricultural land in the United States.

According to a letter signed by 130 House Republicans last week to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), "foreign ownership and investment in U.S. agricultural land has nearly doubled over the past decade, 2010 through 2020." 

"Most recently, USDA reported that foreign individuals and entities held an interest in 37.6 million acres of U.S. agricultural land as of December 31, 2020, representing 2.9 percent of all privately held agricultural land and 1.7 percent of all land in the United States," the 130 House Republicans wrote. "While investors from Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom are regularly among the top foreign investors, investors from countries such as China and Saudi Arabia have increased their investment in U.S. agricultural land. One of the largest groups of foreign investors is renewable energy companies, causing some to raise concerns that farmland is being removed from agricultural production."

The four signers from Alabama were U.S. Reps. Jerry Carl (R-Mobile), Barry Moore (R-Enterprise), Mike Rogers (R-Saks) and Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville).

House Republicans asked GAO officials to investigate trends in foreign investment by country of origin, state, and type of land purchased.   

The Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act of 1978 (AFIDA), as implemented by the regulations, requires all foreign persons holding agricultural land to file a report of such holdings with the U.S. government, specifically USDA's Farm Service Agency, according to the letter. 

"The Farm Service Agency prepares an annual report on foreign holdings of U.S. agricultural land. This annual report includes analysis of data reported under AFIDA, including acres by state and county, acres by type of agricultural land (i.e., cropland, forest, pasture, and other), and acres by country of foreign investor," 130 House Republicans wrote. "Users of the data reported to the Farm Service Agency under AFIDA have found inaccuracies and express concerns that estimates of foreign ownership of agricultural land may be underreported due to the data's lack of reliability and the definitions used by USDA to report foreign ownership."

U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn) introduced legislation in August that would "prohibit any member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) or any non-U.S. citizen acting for or on behalf of the CCP from purchasing real estate in the United States."

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