March 1, 2023

‘One acre of American farmland owned by the Chinese Communist Party is one acre too many’

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 28, 2023 — U.S. Senator Katie Britt (R-Ala.) today at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, continued to push for tangible solutions to combat the Chinese Communist Party’s growing aggression.

Senator Britt directed her line of questioning to Clay Lowery, the former Assistant Secretary for International Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Treasury and former Director of International Finance at the National Security Council. Lowery also previously chaired the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the government committee that reviews international mergers and acquisitions that may affect national security interests.

A video of Senator Britt’s line of questioning can be viewed here.

A partial transcript of Senator Britt’s remarks follows:

Before we start talking about sanctions, I wanted to take a moment to talk about the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). In 2021, the US Department of Agriculture noted that foreign investors held 40 million acres of our farmland. This has occurred, since 2015, at a tune of about 2.2 million acres a year. I have heard from Alabamians as I travel across our state, and this is a concern for them – specifically, the Chinese Communist Party and their willingness and their efforts and their deliberate and intentional attempts to buy up fertile U.S. farmland. I believe food security is national security. Food security is economic security. I believe that one acre of American farmland owned by the Chinese Communist Party is one acre too many. Additionally, I think there is another layer of national security concern that we’re allowing China to buy up farmland near our military installations. It is completely and totally unacceptable.

So, my question, Mr. Lowery, for you as a former chairman of CFIUS, when it comes to ensuring we have a strong agriculture voice at the table when these decisions are being made, do you agree that it’s reasonable the Secretary of Agriculture should be involved as a member of CFIUS?

Lowery responded, “I think it is totally reasonable.” He affirmed that the Secretary of Agriculture should likely be involved in CFIUS in “a systematic way.”

Recently, Senator Britt joined colleagues in introducing four pieces of legislation holding the CCP accountable and standing up for hardworking Americans.

This included Senator Britt cosponsoring the Foreign Adversary Risk Management (FARM) Act, which was introduced by Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.).

This bill would crack down on the CCP’s growing ownership of U.S. farmland and agricultural companies by placing the Secretary of Agriculture on CFIUS; requiring the committee to review any investment that could result in foreign control of any U.S. agricultural business; including agricultural systems and supply chains in the definitions of critical infrastructure and critical technologies for the purposes of reviewing such investments; and mandating that the Department of Agriculture and the Government Accountability Office must each analyze and report on foreign influence in the U.S. agricultural industry.

“The spy balloon was only the latest, most visible instance in an ongoing trend of aggressive behavior by the Chinese Communist Party,” Senator Britt stated last week. “There is no doubt that the CCP is our greatest geopolitical and national security threat, and everything they do is as our adversary. The FBI has said that they open a new counterintelligence case against China about twice per day. From stealing our intellectual property and spying on our children through TikTok, to buying up American farmland and engaging in unfair trade practices that undercut Alabama steel makers and shrimpers, we must hold the CCP accountable. We accomplish this through strength, not continued weakness, which is why I’m committed to modernizing our defense and intelligence capabilities. I’ll continue to fight to put hardworking Alabamians first while protecting our homeland.”

Senator Britt is ranking member of the Homeland Security subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Appropriations and a member of the National Security and International Trade and Finance Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.


Video of Senator Britt’s remarks at today’s hearing can be downloaded for media usage here.