Newhouse Addresses USDA’s Failure to Protect American Farmland from Foreign Adversaries
Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and a bipartisan group of lawmakers demanded action from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding their failure to conduct oversight of foreign acquisition of U.S. agricultural land.
The letter, sent to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack, expresses deep concern about an internal USDA memo which revealed USDA failed to assess or follow through to penalize failures to report foreign acquisition of U.S. agricultural land between 2015 and 2018, which is required under the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act (AFIDA).
“We must always protect America's most vital, yet finite, resource—our farmland,” said Rep. Newhouse. “The United States' most forbidding adversaries, especially the Chinese Communist Party, will continue to undermine our democracy and threaten our heartland if we do not take action. USDA's failure to conduct oversight to protect local farmers, rural communities, and our national security is inexplicable. The American people deserve answers now.”
Read the letter here.
In September of 2013, the President of the People’s Republic of China and General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping, announced China’s “grand political-economic project,” now known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) or Debt Trap Diplomacy. Over the last decade, President Xi has and continues to invest billions into the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas.
This Congress, Rep. Newhouse led his colleagues in re-introducing the Prohibition of Agricultural Land for the People’s Republic of China Act to prohibit the purchase of public or private agricultural land in the United States by foreign nationals associated with the Government of the People’s Republic of China. Additionally, the legislation would prohibit the same associations from participating in any United States Department of Agriculture programs except food safety inspections.
Earlier this year, Rep. Newhouse cosponsored the Promoting Agriculture Safeguards and Security (PASS) Act, which protects our national security by preventing foreign adversaries from taking any ownership or control of the United States’ agricultural land and agricultural businesses. More specifically, the PASS Act prohibits China, Russia, Iran and North Korea from purchasing U.S. agricultural land and agricultural companies.