February 23, 2023

FARM Act introduced

FARM Act introduced

By: Sydney Sheffield

The Foreign Adversary Risk Management (FARM) Act has recently been introduced in the House and Senate. The FARM Act will amend the Defense Production Act of 1950 to prevent harm and disruption to the United States agriculture industry by protecting against foreign influence over agriculture production and supply chains, and for other purposes. The bill was introduced to the House by Ronny Jackson (R-TX), Pete Sessions (R-TX), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), and Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX); to the Senate by, Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND).

“Food security is national security. Our government must be diligent in conducting risk assessments of agriculture investments by foreign adversaries – for reasons including geopolitical strategy, U.S. supply chain protection, and support of American farmers and ranchers,” said Senator Cramer.

The FARM Act would make the Secretary of Agriculture a Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) member. The bill includes language intended to protect the agriculture industry from foreign control through transactions, mergers, acquisitions, or agreements. Certain agriculture supply chains could be designated as critical infrastructure and critical technologies. USDA and the Government Accountability Office would also be required to report to Congress on current and potential foreign investment in American agriculture.

Senator Tuberville originally introduced the bill in October 2021. It was read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. No further action was taken before Congress adjourned in 2022. 

“Over the past few years, we’ve seen an alarming increase in foreign purchases of farmland and food companies, particularly by China. These foreign investments are now reaching every piece of the very large puzzle that makes up our agriculture industry, from farming and processing to packaging and shipping,” said Senator Tuberville. “That’s why America’s agriculture community needs to have a permanent seat at the table when our government vets foreign investment in our country. Adding all parts of the agricultural supply chain to the list of transactions reviewed by CFIUS is the first step toward ensuring America’s agricultural suppliers can keep food on tables across the country.”

Current federal law imposes no restrictions on the amount of private U.S. agricultural land that can be foreign-owned. According to a 2021 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report, foreign interests hold approximately 40 million acres of U.S. agricultural land. That was up more than 2.4 million acres from the previous year. Those holdings account for about 3.1 % of all privately held agricultural land, and 1.8% of all land.

The FARM Act is supported by many in the agriculture industry. Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) President Russell Boening said, “TFB applauds Senator Tommy Tuberville and U.S. Congressman Ronny Jackson for introducing the FARM Act. As Texas has experienced a surge of foreign investors buying agricultural land, it is critical to provide proper oversight to ensure our national security. We are pleased this bill accomplishes this goal, while in-turn protecting private the property rights of landowners who wish to sell their property. TFB appreciates these Congressional leaders for their steadfast leadership on this issue, and we look forward to working with them to secure passage of this bipartisan legislation.”

Read the bill here.