RALEIGH — Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) has joined a bipartisan group of colleagues in co-sponsoring a bill that would increase oversight and transparency of purchases of U.S. agricultural land that could pose a threat to national security.
Along with Tillis, Sens. James Lankford (R-OK), Jim Risch (R-ID), and Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced the Security and Oversight of International Landholdings (SOIL) Act.
Earlier this year, Lankford gave remarks on the Senate floor, citing Chinese ownership of over 194,000 acres in 2020. He also said that in 2021 China had bought close to additional 384,000 acres.
“Food security is national security, and it’s alarming how the Chinese Communist Party has been buying up American farmland as fast as they can,” Tillis said in the release. “This commonsense legislation increases transparency and oversight on these purchases so we can protect both North Carolina farmers and the world’s most abundant food supply from our adversaries.”
According to Tillis’ office, the SOIL Act will require the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to review agriculture real estate purchases by certain foreign entities as well as ban federal assistance for certain foreign-held real estate holdings. Additionally, the SOIL Act seeks to broaden disclosure requirements for foreign entities attempting to buy land in the United States.
“Food security is national security, and it’s alarming how the Chinese Communist Party has been buying up American farmland as fast as they can,” said Tillis. “This commonsense legislation increases transparency and oversight on these purchases so we can protect both North Carolina farmers and the world’s most abundant food supply from our adversaries.”
Similar moves to protect farmland from foreign adversaries have been made by the North Carolina state legislature.
House Bill 463, the Farmland and Military Protection Act, would prohibit China, Russia, Iran and other foreign adversaries and state-controlled entities from purchasing agricultural land in North Carolina. The bill also includes property surrounding military installations.
According to the bill, “no adversarial foreign government shall purchase, acquire, lease, or hold any interest in the following: (1) Agricultural land. (2) Land situated within a 25-mile radius of a military base, military installation, or military airport.”
The bill unanimously passed the House by a vote of 114-0 and has already passed a first reading in the Senate.
“By preventing these foreign land grabs, this legislation will mitigate an unnecessary threat to our national and food security,” said House Majority Leader Rep. John Bell (R-Wayne) in a press statement. “With agriculture and military making up our state’s top two economic impacts, it is critical that we ensure our military bases and farmland are protected and secure.”