Tester’s Bipartisan Bill Would Improve Tracking of Foreign Investment in American Farmland, Aid His Ongoing Efforts to Ban Adversaries from Gaining Foothold on U.S. Soil

Senator’s AFIDA Improvements Act of 2024 would implement key recommendations from recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report;

Improved tracking will help block adversaries like China from acquiring U.S. land 

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today introduced his AFIDA Improvements Act of 2024, bipartisan legislation to strengthen reporting and enforcement of foreign investment in American farmland and agribusiness. Tester’s latest bipartisan bill will aid his ongoing efforts to ban foreign adversaries – China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea – from getting a foothold on U.S. soil by improving tracking and data systems to make sure bad actors cannot acquire agricultural land. 

“Most folks understand that food security is national security, and that our foreign adversaries wouldn’t hesitate to undermine our country by messing with our food supply,” said Tester. “We need policy changes to better track who is buying up our farmland and to crack down on bad actors like China who want to get a foothold on American soil. My new bipartisan bill will ensure we have the data we need to successfully execute my ongoing push to block our foreign enemies from buying up our farmland.” 

Tester’s new bill would specifically strengthen the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act (AFIDA) by implementing several recommendations put forward in a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, which detailed alarming gaps in how the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) currently tracks foreign investments. Tester bipartisan AFIDA Improvements Act of 2024 specifically would:

  • Establish CFIUS data sharing by implementing a process to provide detailed and timely AFIDA transaction data relevant to foreign investments in agricultural land to CFIUS member agencies, including DOD and Treasury. Such information could include whether a party has filed a disclosure, who filed it, and when it was filed.
  • Update the AFIDA Handbook to clarify and provide specific instructions to headquarters and county employees for completing AFIDA responsibilities, including reviewing the accuracy of forms and identifying missing information.
  • Satisfy the requirements of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 by creating an AFIDA online submission system and public database within its expected budget. If the analysis shows that the agency would be unable to meet the requirements of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, USDA should report the results to Congress and recommend appropriate legislative changes.
  • Improve data verification and monitoring of collected AFIDA data.
  • Identify suspected non-filers through data mining activities that compare AFIDA data to FSA program data.
  • Collect data from every foreign investor to ensure AFIDA reporting is complete, such as incorporating country information from additional foreign persons beyond the primary investor.

As the only working dirt farmer in the U.S. Senate, Tester had led the charge to protect American food security and national security by cracking down on ownership of U.S. farmland and agribusinesses by foreign adversaries. 

Tester has introduced two bipartisan bills — the Protecting America’s Agricultural Land from Foreign Harm Act and the Promoting Agriculture Safeguards and Security (PASS) Act — to prohibit America’s foreign adversaries including China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia from purchasing or leasing U.S. farmland. Tester’s PASS Act would specifically empower the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to prohibit future purchases of farmland and agribusinesses by our foreign adversaries, and enable CFIUS to review all significant agriculture-related foreign investments using expert data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. His Protecting America’s Agricultural Land from Foreign Harm Act would strengthen the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act (AFIDA) to further empower the U.S. Department of Agriculture to review foreign ownership of American land.

Tester secured his bipartisan PASS Act as an amendment to the FY24 Senate-passed version of the annual national defense bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Tester’s amendment was ultimately stripped out of the final NDAA by Speaker Johnson and House Republicans. 

Earlier this month, Tester called on Congressional leaders to swiftly pass his bipartisan legislation after new reporting revealed that a billionaire Chinese national purchased nearly 200,000 acres of American agricultural land in Oregon in 2015, making him the second biggest foreign owner of land in America.