WASHINGTON, D.C., January 25, 2024 — U.S. Senator Katie Britt (R-Ala.), the ranking member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, recently joined her colleagues in introducing legislation to combat the rise in American land ownership by foreign adversaries as well as cyber threats to our nation’s critical agricultural sector.
“Food security is national security. We can’t lose sight of the fact that the Chinese Communist Party is our greatest geopolitical and national security threat, and everything they do is as our adversary. These bipartisan, commonsense bills help ensure the proper tools are in place to safeguard American farmland from the CCP and other foreign adversaries, so hardworking families across our nation will continue to have a reliable food supply for generations to come,” said Senator Britt.
The first piece of legislation is the Farm and Food Cybersecurity Act, which is led by Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). This bill would strengthen cybersecurity protecting the agriculture and food critical infrastructure sectors and identify vulnerabilities and improve protective measures of both the government and private groups against cyber threats.
The Farm and Food Cybersecurity Act would:
- Direct the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct a study every two years of the cybersecurity threat to, and vulnerabilities in, the agriculture and food sectors and submit a report to Congress.
- Direct the Secretary of Agriculture, in coordination with the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, as well as the Director of National Intelligence, to conduct an annual cross-sector crisis simulation exercise for food-related cyber emergencies or disruptions.
This legislation is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, North American Millers Association, National Grain and Feed Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, USA Rice, Agricultural Retailers Association, American Sugar Alliance, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to Senator Britt, cosponsors of the Farm and Food Cybersecurity Act include Senators Pete Ricketts (R-Nebr.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), and Mike Rounds (R-S.Dak.).
The text of the bill can be found here.
Additionally, Senator Britt joined Senators Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and nine of their colleagues in introducing legislation to collect more information about foreign ownership of agricultural land in the United States. The Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act (AFIDA) Improvements Act of 2024 would amend the AFIDA Act of 1978 to improve the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) processes for combatting nefarious foreign ownership of American agricultural land by adversaries.
The AFIDA Improvements Act of 2024 would:
- Require USDA to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to govern data sharing between USDA and CFIUS member agencies within one year of enactment.
- Direct USDA to update the agency’s handbook for officials to collect AFIDA data within one year of enactment. This handbook was last updated in 2006.
- Require USDA to develop and report to Congress a timeline to meet specific implementation benchmarks for an online AFIDA submission system and public database. While Congress has required USDA to implement an online system by 2025, GAO discovered that USDA “has not developed timelines for creating an online submission process [or] a public database.”
- Direct and empower USDA to take any such actions as are necessary to validate foreign ownership data collected under AFIDA.
- Direct USDA to better leverage Farm Service Agency data to identify individuals who have illegally not filed transactions with foreign persons under AFIDA.
- Require reporting for foreign persons with a minority stake in an agricultural land asset, including through ownership tiers or shell companies.
Cosponsors of the AFIDA Improvements Act of 2024, in addition to Senator Britt, include Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Roger Marshall (R-Kans.), John Fetterman (D-Penn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.).
The text of the bill can be found here.