An American move to prevent China from buying its agricultural lands

A bipartisan majority in the US House of Representatives on Thursday approved a measure to protect farmland vital to producing renewable energy from Chinese investors, as a prominent senator seeks to pass another piece of legislation to completely stop the Chinese from buying any land or real estate in the United States.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Randy Veenstra of Iowa, was approved by a vote of 407 to 26.

The majority agree

  • 223 Republicans voted in favor of the measure, and 184 Democrats voted in favor.
  • Only 26 Democrats voted against the bill, while 8 lawmakers abstained.
  • The measure is an amendment to the Low Energy Costs Act, which passed the House of Representatives later Thursday.

What did the deputy “the owner of the amendment” say?

Veenstra expressed his happiness with the amendment that was approved, and said:

  • I’m proud that my amendment – derived from the Defense of America’s Rural Energy Act – to the Low Energy Costs Act passed the House of Representatives with broad support.
  • China should be banned from purchasing US farmland suitable for producing ethanol and biodiesel, which is vital to our rural Iowa economy, Fox News reported.
  • Simply put, my amendment keeps China off our farmland, because American farmland belongs to American farmers.

What does the amendment include?

  • America’s Rural Energy Defense Act, introduced earlier this month by Finstra, proposed amending the Defense Production Act of 1950 to prevent foreign adversaries from buying any property suitable for renewable energy or renewable fuel production.
  • The lawmaker’s home state, Iowa, is a major producer of wind power and the nation’s largest producer of biofuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, according to federal data.

US efforts to increase control over the sale of land

  • In recent months, Republican lawmakers and officials across the country have increased oversight of land purchases by foreign investors.
  • The growing number of land sold has raised concerns that foreign companies and investors, particularly from China, could control key US food and energy supplies.
  • According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, China’s agricultural investment increased 10-fold between 2009 and 2016 alone.
  • As Western countries, including the United States, continue their aggressive push to transition away from dependence on fossil fuels, the global biofuel industry is expected to grow by nearly 30 percent over the next four years, according to the International Energy Agency.
  • Iowa and other rural US states are poised to play a big role in the growth of this sector.

“Not one more inch”… Another legislation targeting “Chinese buyers”

  • While recent legislation introduced in Congress would ban purchases of American farmland, Republican Senator Tom Cotton’s bill takes the extra step of banning all real estate purchases.
  • On Thursday, Cotton introduced the most sweeping legislation yet to crack down on Chinese purchases of US land.
  • The senator called for a “total ban on those associated with China” from buying any real estate on US soil.
  • “For decades, the Chinese Communist Party has been gobbling up American farmland and real estate,” Cotton told “Fox News.”
  • “These purchases are at worst used as outposts for Chinese espionage campaigns against US companies and military bases,” Cotton explained.

Who is the bill targeting?

  • Cotton’s bill targets not only people and companies associated with the Chinese, but also “any Chinese citizen”.
  • The bill would prohibit citizens, companies and other entities in China, or any foreign person or entity acting on behalf of them or the Chinese government, from purchasing any public or private real estate located in the United States.

Who are not subject to the ban?

  • The ban does not apply to Chinese nationals who have entered the United States as a refugee, or who have been granted asylum.
  • US citizens (of Chinese descent) and immigrants who have been legally accepted for permanent residence in America are also exempt from the ban.
  • The Cotton bill bars the sale of any US property owned or influenced by Chinese entities that the president determines poses a national security risk.
  • The law would set a minimum penalty for foreign investors who fail to comply with the USDA’s disclosure requirements.
  • “We cannot allow Chinese nationals, or anyone affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party, to own one more inch of American land,” Cotton said. “Any American land that is under existing Chinese ownership should be sold.”

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