We must address China’s threat to American food security

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Our food supply chain is under attack. 

In recent years, the Chinese government has been buying up U.S. agricultural assets, and if we allow this practice to continue, China could create an agricultural monopoly within our own borders, posing an immediate threat to U.S. national security and food security.  

Some may say “attack” is a little extreme, but China is controlled by an unforgiving communist government that represses domestic opposition and has been undermining American interests for years. Just two weeks ago, the U.S.-China Economic Security and Review Commission released a report echoing my concerns: “If further consolidations and Chinese investments in U.S. agricultural assets take place, China may have undue leverage over U.S. supply chains.” The report goes on to discuss how China could gain this leverage by purchasing agribusinesses and land in the United States, reduce U.S. competitiveness by stealing intellectual property and create bioweapons using DNA from genetically modified American crops. 

While the report may come as a surprise to some, China’s agricultural land holdings in America have increased over tenfold in the last decade, and at the beginning of 2020, investments from China held $2 billion worth of American agricultural land. Let me be clear: The Chinese Communist Party and the Government of the People’s Republic of China are not our allies and are willing to play the long game when it comes to rebuilding the world in their image. The same report reads, “The United States is a global leader…making it a prime trading partner and often a target of China’s efforts to strengthen its agriculture sector and food security, sometimes through illicit means.”  

We must take this threat seriously and take every action we can to avoid enabling our adversaries while protecting our own national security. 

That’s why last year, I introduced an amendment to the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies appropriations bill to prohibit the purchase of agricultural land by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and make agricultural lands currently owned by the People’s Republic of China ineligible for farm programs. While it passed through the committee with broad support, the final bill signed into law only required the USDA to provide a report on foreign land purchases. 

A report is not enough to protect American food security and national security, so I recently introduced legislation to prohibit the purchase of public or private agricultural land in the United States by foreign nationals associated with the government of the People’s Republic of China. Additionally, the legislation would prohibit the same associations from participating in any United States Department of Agriculture programs except food safety inspections.  

After decades of well-known wrongdoings, human rights violations, and manipulation of American intellectual property, it is time to get serious about reducing our dependence on China and its role in our nation’s supply chains. 

We hail from the greatest country in the world, and there is no reason we should be reliant on a communist country like China. By bolstering American agriculture, we can create jobs, strengthen our economy, and enhance our national supply chain into the future. 

We must stop pretending China is an ally, and instead recognize it for the adversary that it is. I will continue to stand up to China and all of our foreign adversaries to protect our food security and the American people who rely on it. 

Dan Newhouse represents Washington’s 4th District and is a member of the Appropriations Committee.

Tags China Chinese Communist Party chinese ownership of american farms food security

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