States see Chinese purchase of farmland as a threat to national security

Several states have already banned or are considering banning foreign ownership of farmland from U.S. adversaries such as China, a trend that has its recent roots in North Dakota.

Chinese food manufacturer Fufeng Group purchased 370 acres of land for a corn milling plant in Grand Forks in November 2021.

By January 2023, the Grand Forks City Council announced it would deny building permits for the plant, killing the project 12 miles from the Grand Forks Air Force Base.

The pressure came from state and federal officials concerned about the proposed plant's ties to China and its proximity to the base. A report from the Air Force that officially called the purchase of the land a "threat to national security" sealed the transaction's fate.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 40.8 million acres of U.S. farmland is owned by foreign citizens, companies or countries as of 2021. China owned about 384,000 acres of U.S. farmland.

While the Grand Forks plan is dead, states' efforts to prevent China and other communist countries from owning land are ongoing.

North Dakota lawmakers this session passed a bill that prevents city or county governments from entering into land deals with foreign adversaries. Other legislators have also introduced or passed bills dealing with foreign ownership of agricultural land.

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