On Tuesday, Nov. 21, Southwest Washington’s congresswoman and two other lawmakers introduced the Farmland Security Act of 2023.
The bill is meant to “increase transparency and oversight of foreign ownership of American farmland,” according to a news release from the office of U.S. Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Washougal.
Gluesenkamp Perez is co-sponsoring the bill with U.S. Reps. John Moolenaar, R-Michigan, and Dusty Johnson, R-South Dakota, the release stated, as “foreign-owned agricultural acreage has nearly doubled in the past ten years.”
The news release said the lawmakers believe this surge in foreign ownership poses security risks to domestic food systems, family farms and agricultural communities.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports 37.6 million acres of U.S. agricultural land is owned by foreign investors, the release said.
“When foreign investors buy up broad swaths of American farmland, our food access and national security are put at risk,” Gluesenkamp Perez said in the release. “This bipartisan legislation would help us maintain control over our food supply and ensure family farms across Southwest Washington don’t get squeezed out.”
The legislation impose new financial penalties on foreign owners or shell companies that fail to correctly report acreage owned; require research into foreign ownership of and participation in agricultural production capacity and economic activity; and direct the USDA to conduct an annual compliance audit.
“America’s farmland is highly sought after, not only by U.S. producers, but by individuals and companies around the world,” Johnson said in the release. “If our ag land is sold into the wrong hands, we could face threats to our food security and national security.”