Protecting Our Farmland – The Highland County Press

By U.S. Representative Markwayne Mullin

Agriculture is part of who we are in Oklahoma. Our farmers and ranchers provide everything from food to fuel and fabric for our communities and employ more than 300,000 Oklahomans along the way. Generations of families have dedicated their livelihoods to our land, and we couldn’t be more grateful. Recent reports of China’s acquisition of US farmland and agricultural businesses not only pose a threat to this industry, but to our nation’s security as well.

Like our energy sector, America cannot give ownership of our food supply to those who do not share our national security interests. We must stand up to our adversaries like China who will undermine our position in the industry or exploit the geopolitical weakness of the Biden administration. Our country knows the challenges of a fractured supply chain, and we have learned the danger of overdependence on our adversaries for goods and resources.

China has more than 352,140 acres of farmland in the United States. I joined my fellow Republicans on the House Standing Select Committee on Intelligence as a co-sponsor of the Promoting Agricultural Safeguards and Security Act (PASS). This legislation will prevent countries like China, Russia and Iran from buying American agricultural companies and will ensure that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is involved in the review of any foreign purchase of American companies that could affect our agricultural sector.

A Chinese company recently purchased farmland near Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, home to some of America’s most sensitive military drone technology. From my position on the Intel committee, this is extremely troubling.

Foreign investment in the United States is generally regulated by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). This committee is made up of officials from across the US government, but the committee does not include a member from the USDA. The PASS Act will expand the committee to include the Secretary of Agriculture as a permanent member. This will ensure that American agriculture has a seat at the table when the Committee makes decisions about our national security.

Additionally, I co-sponsored the Agricultural Security Risk Review Act introduced by Congressman Frank Lucas of Oklahoma’s Third Congressional District. Like the PASS Act, this legislation would officially place the Secretary of Agriculture as a member of CFIUS.

We are blessed with God-given resources to ensure our nation’s food security. We cannot allow our major military adversaries, such as China, to use our lands and resources for their best interests.