Tester, Senate Republicans Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Stop Foreign Adversaries from Buying U.S. Farmland

The Protecting America’s Agricultural Land from Foreign Harm Act would prohibit China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea from purchasing or leasing U.S. farmland

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today joined his Republican colleagues Senators Mike Braun (R-IN), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) in introducing the Protecting America’s Agricultural Land from Foreign Harm Act to prohibit America’s foreign adversaries including Iran, North Korea, China and Russia from purchasing or leasing U.S. farmland.

This bipartisan bill builds on Senator Tester’s effort with Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) to prevent China, Russia, Iran and North Korea from investing in, purchasing, leasing or otherwise acquiring U.S. farmland. Their Promoting Agriculture Safeguards and Security (PASS) Act would add the Secretary of Agriculture as a standing member of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to consider agriculture needs when making determinations affecting national security, and require a report to Congress from USDA on the risks posed by foreign takeovers of U.S. businesses engaged in agriculture.

“As a third-generation Montana farmer, I am not going to let our foreign adversaries buy up Montana farmland to threaten our position as the world’s leading military and economic power,” said Tester. “That’s why I’m leading this bipartisan effort to defend our food security and national security.” 

U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows that Chinese ownership of U.S. farmland increased from $81 million in 2010 to $1.8 billion in 2020. This bipartisan legislation would prohibit the purchase or lease of agricultural land in the United States by those associated with the governments of China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. It also prohibits their participation in the USDA agricultural programs for farmers. These restrictions do not include United States citizens or lawfully admitted permanent residents.

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. During a Senate Banking Committee hearing this past year, Tester pushed for answers about how the federal government tracks foreign investment in American farmland and agribusiness.

Last year, Tester introduced the bipartisan Food Security is National Security Act with Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Joni Ernst (R-IA) to include the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Health and Human Services as members of 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.