Tester Pushes Experts on American Farm Purchases by Foreign Entities

Senator’s bipartisan Food Security is National Security Act would help monitor foreign investment in American agriculture

Continuing his fight to defend America’s food supply and national security, U.S. Senator Jon Tester pushed for answers about how the federal government tracks foreign investment in American farmland and agribusiness at a Senate Banking Committee Hearing this week.

“One of the things that I’m somewhat concerned about, that’s why I’m asking the question, is the potential to buy up farm land by a foreign country, potentially even a foreign adversary country,” said Tester. “Is this something we’re seeing, number one, or is this something we’re even tracking?

Tester concluded: “And if no one is checking this out…it seems to me we’re opening ourselves up to a risk we might regret later.”

Tester recently introduced the bipartisan Food Security is National Security Act with Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) to include the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Health and Human Services as members of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and require the Committee to consider the security of our nation’s food and agriculture systems as a factor when determining to take action with respect to foreign investment.

CFIUS is an interagency body comprised of nine officials, two ex officio members, and Presidential appointees that assists the President in reviewing the national security aspects of foreign direct investment in the United States. CFIUS’s members include: Departments of the Treasury (chair), Justice, Homeland Security, Commerce, Defense, State, and Energy, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

As the only working farmer in the U.S. Senate, Tester has long been an advocate for increased market transparency and a stronger food supply system. He has worked aggressively over the past year to pass his two bipartisan bills, the Meat Packing Special Investigator Act and the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act, to combat consolidation in the meat industry, protect family farmers and ranchers, lower prices for consumers, and ensure America’s food security. Both bills passed out of the Senate Agriculture Committee earlier this year.

Additionally, Tester introduced his Agriculture Right to Repair Act earlier this year to finally guarantee farmers the right to repair their own equipment and end current restrictions on the repair market. He also introduced his bipartisan American Beef Labeling Act, which would ensure that only beef raised in the United States is labeled as a product of the USA, and his bipartisan New Markets for State-Inspected Meat and Poultry Act, which allows meat and poultry products inspected by Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) approved state Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) programs to be sold across state lines.