is here, and farmers across the state are looking forward to reaping the rewards of their labor. They will spend many early mornings and late nights in the fields harvesting crops to be enjoyed across the country and the world. We could not survive without their work. That’s why protecting their ability to produce is one of my top priorities in the U.S. Senate.
The fact is, food security is national security, and the success of our farmers impacts all of us. Family farms are essential to our nation’s food supply—a 2018 report from the United States Department of Agriculture found that 88 percent of our food production comes from family farms. These family-run operations account for about 98 percent of farms in the United States, and 97 percent in Alabama. We must do what we can to ensure our farmers are able to make a livelihood, provide for their families and not be bogged down with undue restrictions.
To that end, I have joined efforts to remove barriers our government is trying to place on our farmers, including pushing for the reduction of trade barriers on peanut exports, and introducing legislation that enables banks to more easily and affordably lend capital to farmers and landowners.
But looming large is also a threat from overseas. According to the USDA, foreign investors now own approximately 37.6 million acres in the United States—an area larger than the state of Iowa. The largest foreign investors currently are Canada, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom. But America’s agricultural opportunities have attracted the attention of an adversarial foreign competitor—China.
Members of the Chinese Communist Party’s land ownership in the U.S. surged during the last decade, from 13,720 acres in 2010 to 352,140 in 2020. This foreign stake in our agriculture production can provide the Chinese Communist Party with leverage over our supply chains and access to sensitive information critical to our national security.
Nearly two million acres of agricultural land in Alabama is foreign-owned—the third-highest amount in the United States. While all of this is not owned by China, it still presents a huge opportunity for foreign adversaries who wish to do us harm. We do not want Alabama to be the open door for bad actors looking for a gateway into our domestic production.
That’s why Senator Cotton and I introduced the Securing America’s Land from Foreign Interference Act to prohibit members of the Chinese Communist Party from buying land in the United States. This bill would also set minimum penalties for foreign purchases that do not comply with federal reporting requirements.
Additionally, I introduced the Foreign Adversary Risk Management Act to give the U.S. agriculture industry a seat at the table on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which is tasked with vetting all foreign investments and acquisitions of American companies. Our agriculture industry currently does not have input in the committee’s review process, even though they are directly impacted. By adding the Secretary of Agriculture to the committee, we can protect our agriculture industry from foreign control through transactions, mergers, acquisitions or agreements.
Our farmers and ranchers work hard for us, and we must work to make sure their work isn’t undone by excessive government regulations or bad foreign actors. As a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, I will continue to advocate for Alabama producers so that they can feed our families for generations to come.
Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs and HELP Committees.
See complete story in the Journal Record.