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  • Writer's pictureLucas Nava

Norman: China's leadership "has some serious behavioral problems"

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U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman shared his concerns regarding Chinese ownership of agricultural land in the United States in a blog post over the summer and with his support of a proposal to restrict such sales.

The Republican from South Carolina is a co-sponsor of H.R. 7892, the "Prohibition of Agricultural Land for the People's Republic of China Act." The bill intends "(t)o prohibit certain persons from purchasing agricultural real estate in the United States, and for other purposes," specifically "by nonresident aliens, foreign businesses, an agent, trustee, or fiduciary associated with the Government of the People’s Republic of China," according to its text.

H.R. 7892 was introduced on May 27 and referred to the Committees on Agriculture and on Foreign Affairs, where it's currently awaiting consideration.

Norman also wrote about the issue in an Aug. 17 blog post, where he noted that "China owns and controls almost 192,000 acres of farmland right here in the United States." He notes that this isn't "a huge percentage of our total farm acreage by any stretch," and that several other countries own more American farmland than China.

"However, there are two things that make Chinese ownership in our farmland particularly concerning," Norman wrote in the blog. "First, foreign investors from China are under the total and absolute control of the communist Chinese government.

"And second, that government has become increasingly hostile towards America," he continued. "From military threats to cyber attacks to rampant intellectual property theft, the leadership of that nation has some serious behavioral problems that represent a threat to our nation."

The Grand Forks Herald reported the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission reported concerns about China-based Fufeng Group's planned corn-milling plant's future location, which is approximately 12 miles from the Grand Forks Air Force Base. Agweek reports that Fufeng Group is an agricultural business with a history of odor and air pollution violations in its native country.

“If proximal access were given to our adversaries, and their collections were directed at us, it would present a costly national security risk causing grave damage to (the) United States’ strategic advantages,” Air Force Major Jeremy Fox told the Herald.

The Commission's report also noted that the plant's close proximity to the base qualifies it for review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

A fact sheet produced by the America First Policy Institute (AFPI) states that North Dakota is one of 14 U.S. states that have enacted laws effectively prohibiting the Chinese Communist Party from owning agricultural land; another three have introduced legislation yet to be signed into law. The fact sheet also referred to a USDA report stating that Chinese investors held 13,720 acres of U.S. farmland in 2010 and 352,140 acres in 2020, marking an average yearly increase of over 33,000 acres per year. The report suggests that securing and taking over the world's food supply chains is a key aspect of China's Belt and Road Initiative, which has also seen the government hoard computer chips, minerals, and other important commodities, according to the AFPI.

In early October, Republican Leader of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, James Comer (R-Ky.), and Republican Leader of the House Committee on Agriculture, Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pa.), along with 128 Republican colleagues, sent a letter to U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller Gene Dodaro requesting a study covering foreign investment in U.S. farmland and its effect on national security, trade, and food security.

Ralph Norman is a South Carolina native and a 1975 graduate of Presbyterian College. He also serves on the House Committee on Financial Services, as well as the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

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