Helping keep U.S. farmland in domestic ownership

Helping keep U.S. farmland in domestic ownership
Oct 03, 2022

A new bill bans foreign entities from receiving credit from the Farm Credit System

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate would prevent foreign owners from receiving credit and financial services through the Farm Credit System.

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) introduced the Farm Credit for Americans Act of 2022 on Sept. 27.

If passed, the bill would amend the Farm Credit Act of 1971 and add a section stating, “a foreign person (as defined in section 9 of the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act of 1978 (7 U.S.C. 3508)) shall be ineligible for any credit or financial services provided by a Farm Credit System institution.”

The bipartisan bill “will ensure no foreign investors can use loans from a government-sponsored entity to buy up valuable acres,” Grassley said in a statement. “This is a commonsense step to ensure foreign buyers, like those backed by China, aren’t taking prime land away from American family farmers with help from the U.S. government.”

Congress established the FCS in 1916 to support rural communities at a time when commercial lenders avoided farm loans.

FCS had a portfolio of about $210 billion in farm loans in 2021.

And since 1997, regulations have allowed for foreign owners and entities to receive credit.

Passing this bill helps restore the FCS to its original intentions, Brown said.

“Foreign governments, especially China, have bought up prime farmland across this country at an alarming rate for decades,” he said in a statement. “This will put in place a clear standard: American taxpayer dollars should not be used as a financing tool for foreign governments to undermine our national security and take our family farms.”

Both senators mentioned China as it owns large portions of U.S. farmland.

In 2010, Chinese investors held 13,720 acres of U.S. farmland. That’s equal to 21.4 square miles. For context, the city of Santa Ana, Calif., has a land area of about 27 square miles.

By 2020, Chinese investors owned 352,140 acres. That’s a 550-mile area. For comparison, the city of Los Angeles has a land area of about 501 square miles.

In total, foreign people or entities own about 37.6 million acres of U.S. farmland, the USDA reported in December 2020.

That area is equal to 58,750 square miles. To put that into perspective, the land area of Illinois is 57,914 square miles.

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