Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) is sounding the alarm on foreign land ownership in the state of Alabama and in the nation.
Ownership of land in the United States has been a matter of national discussion, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the breakdown of America’s supply chain.
Tuberville described the purchases as a national security issue due to the potential foreign influence on the American supply chain. He drew much attention to the land owned specifically by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
“China is our greatest adversary,” Tuberville said. “And it’s clear they will do whatever it takes to overtake us with regards to our military and our economy. To advance this goal, China has been targeting our agricultural land and food chain supply. China has been ramping up its agricultural investments around the globe over the last decade.”
According to The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), foreign persons held an interest in nearly 37.6 million acres of U.S. agricultural land as of Dec. 31, 2020. This is 2.9% of all privately owned agricultural land and 1.7% of all land in the United States.
According to Tuberville, Alabama is the third most foreign-owned land in the nation, a claim backed up by USDA documents.
As of the beginning of 2021, USDA information claims that 6.2% of all agricultural lands in Alabama have foreign ownership, over 1.7 million acres. Second place goes to Hawaii with 9.2% foreign ownership, and first place goes to Maine with 19.5% of agricultural lands in the hands of foreign individuals.
From 2019 to 2020, foreign land ownership in the state increased by nearly 25,000 acres.
The county with the highest amount of foreign-owned land is Butler County, with nearly 150,000 acres owned by foreign investors. Second place goes to Monroe County, with 136,000 acres.
“Chinese investor’s holdings of U.S agriculture land surged from more than 13,000 acres in 2010 to more than 352,000 acres in 2020,” Tuberville said. “This uptick in Chinese agriculture investment in the United States is a huge national security risk that will only grow if something isn’t done.”
To combat this issue, Tuberville has introduced the Securing America’s Land from Foreign Interference Act, which seeks to prohibit further ownership of American lands by the CCP.
The bill would prohibit any member of the CCP or any non-U.S. citizen acting for or on behalf of the CCP from purchasing real estate in the United States.
“Food security is national security,” Tuberville said. “And we cannot continue giving our top adversary a foot in the door to purchase land in the United States and undermine our national security.”
The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas).
“Chinese investments in American farmland put our food security at risk and provide opportunities for Chinese espionage against our military bases and critical infrastructure," said Cotton. "Instead of allowing these purchases, the U.S. government must bar the Communist Party from purchasing our land."
Tuberville told 1819 News that, although the bill seeks to limit the future acquisition of American land by the CCP, nothing can be done regarding the land that is currently owned by them. He also said he expects bipartisan support for the legislation and foresees a favorable reaction in Congress.
“It’s going to be an interesting discussion on the floor,” Tuberville told 1819 News. “I think we are going to have bipartisan support; there’s going to be some people that aren’t going to be for it for different reasons … I would think that we’re going to have a great opportunity to get this passed because of the problems we foresee in the future with China and how they handle themselves in our country and also in other countries.”
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