Washington: After the Chinese company bought the farmland near an Air Force base in North Dakota, US Senator on Wednesday introduced legislation in the Senate to “blacklist China” from investing in, purchasing or otherwise acquiring land or businesses involved in agriculture.
While addressing the Senate, Senator Mike Rounds- a Republican from South Dakota, said, “protecting American farmland is critical to maintaining our national security… As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I was alarmed when a Chinese company recently purchased farmland near an Air Force base in North Dakota.”
Notably, this new legislation will also blacklist Russia, Iran and North Korea from the investment in US agribusiness, Senator Rounds wrote on his site.
The Fufeng Group, a China-based company, purchased 300 acres of farmland near Grand Forks, North Dakota, a rural area that lies about a 90-minute drive from the Canadian border, according to the New York Post citing a report.
Rounds contended that this acquisition by a Chinese company could threaten national security by allowing China to closely monitor the operations and communications at a very important military facility.
Senator Rounds further said, “In my travels around South Dakota, I’ve heard from many farmers and ranchers who are concerned about foreign adversaries owning American farmland. It’s time to put a stop to this and take action. This legislation makes certain American interests are protected by blacklisting foreign adversaries from purchasing land or businesses involved in agriculture.”
On July 1, Representative Elise Stefanik introduced the House version of the Promoting Agriculture Safeguards and Security Act (PASS). Rounds’ legislation retains key provisions of the House version and adds additional language related to foreign investments, agricultural land acquisition and reporting by the Secretary of Agriculture.
Meanwhile, the Chinese company that bought the farmland near Grand Forks is also 40 miles away from Grafton, North Dakota, where a limited liability company believed to be controlled by billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates recently paid USD 13 million for thousands of acres of potato farmland, causing a stir among locals, according to the New York Post.
Fufeng Group said that it is planning to use the land to build a USD 700 million corn milling plant that would create at least 200 jobs as well as residual opportunities for logistics, trucking, and other services.
However, the US Senior Air Force officers circulated a memo in April warning that the presence of Fufeng Group in Grand Forks, a town of just 60,000 people, was a national security threat.
“Some of the most sensitive elements of Grand Forks exist with the digital uplinks and downlinks inherent with unmanned air systems and their interaction with space-based assets,” wrote the US Air Force Major Jeremy Fox.