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Legislation would address foreign ownership of U.S. farmland

Legislative Watch: Canada largest investor; U.S. meat exports support corn, soybeans; WOTUS blocked in another 24 states; Product of the USA label.

P. Scott Shearer

April 14, 2023

3 Min Read
Legislation would address foreign ownership of U.S. farmland
National Pork Board

Foreign ownership of farmland, especially China, has become an increasing issue in Congress and several state legislatures. Representative Dan Newhouse (R-WA) has introduced the "Prohibition of Agricultural Land for the People's Republic of China Act" which would prohibit the purchase of U.S. public or private agricultural land by foreign nationals associated with the government of China. 

Newhouse said, "The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is a threat to American democracy. The United States is engaged in a great power struggle with the CCP, and we must respond with tough policies that will protect our farmland and food supply chain. We should be taking every action we can to strengthen our domestic production while preventing our nation's strongest adversaries from having an advantage over our supply chain."

The “Promoting Agriculture Safeguards and Security (PASS) Act" introduced by Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) would prevent China, Russia, Iran and North Korea from acquiring U.S. farmland, either by investing, purchasing or leasing.

According to USDA, foreign investors have an interest in approximately 37.6 million acres or 2.9% of U.S. farm and forest land as of Dec. 31, 2020. Forest land accounted for 46%, cropland at 29%, pasture and other agricultural land at 23% and non-agricultural land at 2%. 

The largest foreign investors in U.S. farm and forest land are Canada - 32%, Netherlands – 13%, Italy – 7%, United Kingdom – 6% and Germany at 5%. China investors hold less than 1%. 

There are currently 27 states considering legislation that would prohibit or restrict foreign acquisition of U.S. agricultural land.   

Beef and pork exports support corn and soybeans
A study released by the U.S. Meat Export Federation found that in 2022, pork and beef exports increased the value of corn by 15% per bushel and soybeans by 13%  per bushel. 

USMEF Chair Dean Meyer said, "For every bushel of corn we marketed in 2022, a little over $1 was attributed to red meat exports and with soybeans, pork exports contributed $1.94 per bushel. Pork and beef exports bring critical support to our bottom lines."

Key findings from the study include:

  • Beef and pork exports accounted for 503.4 million bushels of U.S. corn usage, which equated to a market value of $3.4 billion (at an average corn price of $6.75 per bushel).

  • Beef and pork exports accounted for 3.42 million tons of DDGS usage, equating to $834 million (at an average price of $244 per ton). 

  • Beef and pork exports contributed an estimated total economic impact of 15%, or $1.01, of bushel value in 2022 at an average price of $6.75 per bushel.

  • Pork exports accounted for 89.7 million bushels of U.S. soybean usage, which equated to a market value of $1.33 billion (at an average price of $14.83 per bushel).

  • Pork exports contributed an estimated total economic impact of 13% of bushel value, or $1.94, in 2022 at an average price of $14.83 per bushel.

The study was conducted by World Perspectives Inc. and used 2022 statistics provided by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service and data analysis by World Perspectives.

WOTUS blocked in another 24 states
U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland of North Dakota granted a preliminary injunction stopping the Waters of the U.S. rule from taking effect in 24 states. 

The states are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Earlier a federal judge blocked the rule from taking effect in Texas and Idaho.

USDA extends comment period for Product of the USA proposal
USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced it was extending the comment period an additional 30 days for the proposed rule, "Product of the USA" label for meat. The deadline for comments is now June 11.

The proposed rule allows for a voluntary Product of the USA labeling claim on FSIS regulated products from animals born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the United States.

About the Author(s)

P. Scott Shearer

Vice President, Bockorny Group, Inc.

Scott Shearer is vice president of the Bockorny Group Inc., a leading bipartisan government affairs consulting firm in Washington, D.C. With more than 30 years experience in government and corporate relations in state and national arenas, he is recognized as a leader in agricultural trade issues, having served as co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for U.S.-China Trade and co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for Trade Promotion Authority. Scott was instrumental in the passage of China Permanent Normal Trade Relations and TPA. He is past chairman of the USDA-USTR Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Animals and Animal Products and was a member of the USAID Food Security Advisory Committee. Prior to joining the Bockorny Group, Scott served as director of national relations for Farmland Industries Inc., as well as USDA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs (1993-96), serving as liaison for the Secretary of Agriculture and the USDA to Congress.

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