US Lawmakers Seek Greater Oversight of Chinese Purchases of American Farmland

Jul 13, 2023

Lawmakers are worried about the rising amount of American farmland being bought by Chinese purchasers. They worry this might endanger the food supply and the country’s safety.  

More foreigners have been buying US farmland. In the last ten years, the amount has doubled, according to the US Department of Agriculture. As of 2021, foreigners owned 40 million acres. Chinese companies and people only own a small part of it.   

Chinese people and companies own about 384,000 acres in the US. That's smaller than half of Rhode Island. It's also much less than the 13 million acres owned by Canadians. 

No foreign government owns any of this land. This includes China. But lawmakers are worried. They fear the Chinese could hurt the US. That's because Chinese laws let that government get information from companies and people who own US land. They worry that China's goal is to control the US food supply. That, and use the land to spy on the US. Some critics say these fears are overblown.    

In 2021, lawmakers were concerned when a Chinese company bought 300 acres of land 12 miles from an Air Force base in North Dakota. This base is where top secret technology is kept.  

“China, our nation’s number one pacing threat, is … encroaching on land surrounding military bases,” said Iowa Republican US Senator Joni Ernst. 

Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat, is a US Senator from Michigan. She also chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee. She is working with Ernst on this issue. They want to pass a bill to change the way the government watches over land bought by foreigners. 

Stabenow said the most important thing for the US is to protect "our food supply from foreign ownership." 

Photo by Dany Meyers courtesy of Unsplash. 

Reflect: How important is it to you to know who grows the food you eat?

Chinese people and companies own about 384,000 acres in the US. This detail from the story would best be described as _______. (Common Core RI.5.8; RI.6.8)
a. an opinion
b. a prediction
c. a belief
d. a fact
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