Feb 13 2023
Protecting Our Land from Foreign Surveillance
Last weekend, the United States shot down a Chinese surveillance balloon that entered our airspace. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is constantly looking for opportunities to spy on our nation’s military facilities, steal intellectual property, and threaten the United States’ position as the leader of the free world.
The CCP cannot be trusted, and it’s critical that we present a united front against any attempt to chip away at our national security. That’s why my colleagues and I are concerned about companies with ties to the CCP purchasing American land and moving in next door to our military bases.
Just a few hundred miles north of Nebraska, Chinese food producer Fufeng Group recently bought 300 acres of land in Grand Forks, North Dakota — 12 miles from Grand Forks Air Force Base. Before Fufeng set its roots down in North Dakota, the Air Force complained that the company’s “proposed project presents a significant threat to national security with both near- and long-term risks of significant impacts to our operations in the area.”
The Grand Forks base hosts some of our nation’s most sensitive drone and communications technologies — so it is not a coincidence that our communist adversary is establishing a corn milling plant down the road.
Over three percent of all privately held U.S. agricultural land is owned by foreign investors. Chinese ownership of U.S. land has skyrocketed over the past decade, multiplying by a factor of 28 between 2010 and 2021. Fourteen states have laws that seek to restrict foreign ownership or investments in private agricultural land. Nebraska requires foreign entities to report purchases or ownership of our farmland. One of the federal government’s responsibilities is to secure the national defense, and the lack of visibility into this issue is worrisome.
Many Nebraskans have written me letters of concern over the amount of American land China is buying. Almost 800,000 acres across our state are owned by foreign entities, adding up to 1.7 percent of Nebraska land. Foreign control of our natural resources is concerning, especially because our country is the agricultural engine of the world. Nebraska is home to a number of critical military facilities, including Offutt Air Force Base. We also host 82 launch facilities for Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in Western Nebraska.
This is why I’m cosponsoring my friend Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) Foreign Adversary Risk Management (FARM) Act. The FARM Act would recognize the national security implications of our agricultural sector by placing the Secretary of Agriculture on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS). CFIUS is a team of government officials who review and then approve or deny foreign investment acquisitions in America.
The bill would also require a review of transactions that could result in the foreign ownership of U.S. agriculture businesses. It would classify agriculture supply chains as critical infrastructure and critical technologies to ensure that their security is prioritized, and it would require the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Government Accountability Office to report to Congress on the current and potential foreign investments into our country’s agriculture industry.
As a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am working every day to bolster our national defense. I’m proud to sign onto this bill to protect Nebraska producers, the land we cherish, and our military communities.
Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.