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State lawmakers vote to stop China from buying farmland

Published in Blog on April 28, 2023 by Jakob Fay

As of 2021, China owned an estimated 383,935 acres of American farmland, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Especially in light of this year’s Chinese spy balloon fiasco, these foreign holdings have sparked debate over whether China might use its agricultural land for espionage against the U.S. and whether government officials should crack down on the amount of land our foreign adversaries are allowed to purchase.

In response to the controversy, lawmakers in the North Carolina House of Representatives voted this week to prevent government-controlled companies from China from purchasing farmland or land near U.S. military bases. Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and Venezuela would also be barred from making such purchases.

“As someone who grew up on a family farm, preserving North Carolina’s farmland is a top priority,” said State Rep. Jennifer Balkcom, the bill’s primary sponsor. “Our state’s agricultural land is one of our most important assets and it is common sense that we protect it from foreign governments that do not have America’s best interests in mind.”

The bill passed unanimously in the North Carolina House and is now being deliberated on in the Senate.

North Carolina’s bill comes at a time of growing uneasiness about China’s and other adversaries’ increased acquisition of American soil. According to the Wall Street Journal, “[a] bipartisan group of lawmakers criticized the Agriculture Department for lax oversight of U.S. farmland purchases by foreign buyers, an issue that has been spotlighted by rising concern over Chinese acquisitions,” urging “more oversight.”

Ultimately, the onus of ensuring safe practices when it comes to selling land to America’s foreign opponents falls on the states. North Carolina has set an important precedent, taking important steps to keep our country safe. 

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