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The Farmland Security Act of 2023 is introduced 

By: Sydney Sheffield 

United States Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced a new bill, designed to increase the transparency and oversight of foreign ownership in America’s agricultural industry. The Farmland Security Act of 2023 builds on the Farmland Security Act of 2022, by ensuring that all foreign investors who buy American agricultural land report their holdings and strengthens the penalties for those who evade the required filing. 

“Our agricultural economy is the beating heart of Wisconsin’s rural communities. But when foreign investors own farmland and agricultural processing capacity, it can put our national security, domestic food supply, and local communities at risk,” said Senator Baldwin. “The Farmland Security Act of 2023 will give the American public and Congress a clearer picture of who owns America’s heartland, while also investing in critical research to better understand how foreign ownership is impacting our rural communities, family farms, and national security.”

The bipartisan bill would also invest in research to better understand the impact foreign ownership of American farmland and agricultural production capacity has on our domestic food supply, family farms, and rural communities. It will amend the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act (AFIDA) of 1978. According to the bill, currently, in the United States, neither Congress nor the public has access to the disaggregated foreign ownership data. 

The AFIDA requires that a foreign person who acquires, disposes of, or holds an interest in United States agricultural land must disclose such transactions and holdings to the Secretary of Agriculture. Foreign persons must file an FSA-153 in the Farm Service Agency (FSA) Service Center where the land is physically located within 90 days of the date of the transaction. Failure to report is subject to a civil penalty of up to 25% of the fair market value of the land on the date the penalty is assessed.

Specifically, the Farmland Security Act of 2023 would:

  • Requiring research into foreign ownership of agricultural production capacity and foreign participation in agricultural economic activity in the United States
  • Requiring USDA to conduct annual compliance audits of no less than ten percent (10%) of the reports to ensure completeness and accuracy of filings
  • Amending report to Congress to require research into foreign entities’ agricultural leasing activities and the impact it has on rural communities, family farms, the domestic food supply
  • Requiring research into trends of foreign-owned “shell corporations” purchasing American agricultural land
  • Requiring USDA to provide annual training to state and county-level staff regarding identification of non-reporting foreign-owned agricultural land
  • Striking the cap on the fee of 25% of the agricultural lands valuation for failing to report or misreporting foreign-owned acreage
  • Requiring a fee of 100% of the agricultural lands valuation for shell corporations that are failing to report or misreporting foreign-owned acreage, except in cases where the shell corporation remedies non-filing or defective filing within 60 days of notice by the Secretary
  • Authorizing $2 million annually for the activities prescribed under the Agriculture Foreign Investment Disclosure Act, as amended

“The world’s best farmland is located in America,” said Senator Grassley. “Our foreign competitors recognize this and continue to invest in American agricultural land, increasing competition for young and beginning farmers and threatening our national security. Our bill gives Congress and the American people the resources to closely monitor these foreign sales in order to assess the risks they pose. I’ll always fight to protect our farmland, preserve domestic agriculture, and support local farmers.”