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Montana Ag Network: Legislation to prevent foreign entities investing in U.S. farmland

Farm Tractor
Posted at 8:45 AM, Dec 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-11 11:37:45-05

GREAT FALLS — Montana's Congressional delegation is continuing is fight for national security.

"We are going to address land purchases here in the United States, the same way that the individual who is trying to purchase agriculture land, the way their country handles that," explained Congressman Matt Rosendale (R-MT).

Rep. Rosendale has introduced his effort to prevent foreign entities from the purchase of American farmland through his Land and National Defense Act.

The USDA reports that foreign nations and entities hold an interest in 40.8 million acres of agricultural land. According Rosendale's proposed piece of legislation, current federal law imposes no restrictions on the amount of private U.S. agricultural land that can be owner by foreign nations, including citizens. This piece of legislation imposes the same restrictions on international buyers that their country implements. Including the Secretary of Agriculture to notify the respective Congressman and Senator of a foreign entities land purchase. It also would create a U.S. Land Protection Task Force to enforce the provisions of the legislation.

"We already know that foreign individuals or entities have purchased over 41 million acres of agricultural land… and whether that was done for nefarious purposes to try and spy on us, or just getting control over our agriculture production, either way it’s a really bad idea." Rep. Rosendale added.

This piece of legislation is one of many that already presented to Congress. Democratic Senator Jon Tester has proposed a number of bipartisan national security bills, including the PASS Act and Food Security is National Security Act.

"It’s not to discriminate whatsoever, this is about preventing companies involved in the Chinese Communist Party, or Russia’s Communist Party, Putin to be exact from purchasing land here. As I said, North Korea, it’s the same thing, Iran it’s the same thing. I think it’s a very timely issue," expressed Sen. Tester (D-MT).

Tester's bills would enact CFIUS, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to work closely with President Biden in oversight of foreign land purchases. Tester, has pushed for answerson the Senate Banking Committee in the past year on if it's aware of international interest in U.S. farmland.

Last week, Congressman Rosendale posted a video on X, formerly known as Twitter, he is strongly considering a bid for candidacy in the Senate. A seat in Congress that could determine which party controls the majority.

This piece of legislation is a chance for Rep. Rosendale to not sit back as he feels a threat to the sovereignty of the nation is at stake.

"If you’re just putting legislation out to use it for messaging, that’s not going to help our farmers. That’s not going to help our national security and that’s what I’m focused on."

Congressman Rosendale has been in the mix of a divided House in recent months. He is one member of Congress who voted to oust Rep. Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House, who recently announced his resignation, and prioritized the proper Appropriations process to pass a Federal budget.

Senator Tester's goal is to put national security on the forefront and to pass any piece of legislation that protects America's farmland.

"The Republican Speaker of the House does not think this should be on there. I disagree with him. I think it should be but nonetheless in the end... If Congressman Rosendale can get a bill in that does the same thing, and I haven’t looked at his bill off hand, but I can get behind that immediately," added Sen. Tester.

Currently, there is no timeline for when this piece of legislation will be debated and voted on. In the event that a piece of legislation can get passed from the work done by Tester and Rosendale, Congress can choose numerous articles for their proposed bills to formulate a piece of legislation that works for all.