U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn) joined a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators by introducing the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Improvements Act of 2024 (AFIDA) to collect more information about foreign ownership of American farmland.
This legislation builds on Tuberville's other efforts, like the Foreign Adversary Risk Management Act (FARM ACT), to secure America's and Alabama's agriculture industries from foreign adversaries.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Alabama has the third-largest amount of foreign-held agricultural land, with 1.8 million acres. Texas leads the nation with 4.7 million acres, and Maine is second with 3.7 million acres of foreign-owned agricultural land.
Tuberville said, "We can't let our enemies hold our food supply hostage."
"Right now, they're buying up more and more of the farmland that feeds our people. We need to get ahead of this. Our farms ought to stay American, and our farmers must continue to thrive and to beat the competition," he added.
The AFIDA Improvements Act of 2024 would update the AFIDA of 1987 in response to an alarming report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that revealed the USDA is not equipped to fully combat potentially dangerous foreign ownership of American agricultural land by foreign adversaries. Under AFIDA, foreign persons who acquire, dispose of, or hold an interest in U.S. agricultural land must disclose those transactions to the USDA.
The proposed legislation sponsored by Tuberville would require the USDA to streamline data sharing with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS). It would require USDA to update the agency's handbook for officials to collect AFIDA data, a handbook that has not been updated since 2006, and it would require USDA to give Congress a timeline to meet specific implementation benchmarks for an online AFIDA submission system, public database and many more requirements to secure the nation's agricultural land.
According to the statement, the United States has experienced a rapid increase in foreign investment in the agricultural sector over the past few years, particularly from China. Growing foreign investment in agriculture and other essential industries, like health care and energy, threatens our country's national security. As Alabama's voice on the Senate Ag Committee, Tuberville has been sounding the alarm about foreign ownership of American farmland and other elements of our food supply chain.
USDA data from December 2021 shows foreign investors own approximately 40.8 million acres of U.S. agricultural land. Since 2017, the amount of agricultural land purchased by foreign entities has reached an annual average of 2.9 million acres. Additionally, between 2010 and 2021, entities or individuals from China increased their ownership of U.S. agricultural land exponentially from 13,720 acres to 383,935 acres.
This bill is one of many that Tuberville has introduced or co-sponsored since taking his seat in the Senate and on the Senta Ag committee. As Democrats currently control the U.S. Senate, the fact this is a bipartisan bill gives it a greater chance of passage. If it passes the committee, it will go to the floor for the whole Senate for a vote.
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