FARM Act: looking out for farmers, our food supply, and national security

Lawmakers are taking a closer look at foreign investment in agriculture, calling it a matter of national security.

The Foreign Adversary Risk Management Act, or the FARM Act, would give agriculture representation on the Committee of Foreign Investment in the United States.

“There’s no representation for the farmers on that committee. We would like to see the Secretary of Agriculture to be on that committee, where he can look out for the farmers and our food supply because that’s national security,” according to Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville.

The committee oversees the vetting process of foreign investments or acquisition of American companies, and Sen. Tuberville says that it is critical for agriculture to be included.

“You might not be able to change anything but you can bring it out to light,” he states. “Right now, we really don’t know what’s going on. If you’re a farmer, if you’re in forestry, if you’re in the food supply, if you’re on the food chain, you have no say so whatsoever, so let’s just get some representation.”

Chinese firms have been expanding their presence in American ag over the last decade and currently own around 192,000 acres of American farmland worth $1.9 billion dollars, according to the latest USDA data.

“I think it’s important. I think it is a big step forward for the farmers, especially since China’s coming into the country, buying up everything they can buy, along with some other countries. We need to keep family farms and we need to keep our big farms, and we need to know that they’re U.S. made, and the people in the United States are the ones that are behind our food supply,” he adds.

China also purchased pork packing company Smithfield Foods back in 2013, but Sen. Tuberville says that the pandemic has raised new concerns about foreign ownership in the food supply.

“What we saw through the pandemic-- we lost a lot of workers because of the pandemic, but when you only have four major packing houses across the country your cattle people are going to suffer. A lot of people lost their food supply when truckers went down during the pandemic, because we had no way to truck the supplies,” he explains. “So, we just need representation on a lot of different boards, but right now we want to really focus on people buying things in this country that aren’t American.”

His legislation has bipartisan support and the companion bill was introduced in the House by Representative Ronny Jackson and Filemon Vela.


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