SD Representative Dusty Johnson backs bill increasing oversight of foreign farmland purchases

South Dakota’s sole House representative continues his fight against adversarial foreign governments buying up US farmland.

Republican Rep. Dusty Johnson backs a bill, introduced Wednesday by the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, that would give the U.S. Foreign Investment Committee greater power to police land purchases by foreign investors. foreign governments deemed contradictory and to consider US food security in its national security review.

In the bill, conflicting governments include China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela while President Nicholas Maduro continues to be in power.

The agriculture secretary could also vote in CFIUS reviews of farmland and agricultural technology, according to the bill.

The bill is the latest step in addressing the threat Congress believes the Chinese Communist Party poses to the United States. Hakeem Jeffries, D-NY.

More: Chinese companies in the crosshairs as South Dakota officials call for supply chain reforms

“They told us the threat from the Chinese Communist Party was too real for us to play partisan games,” Johnson said.

He added that he believed that the work of the committee was gaining momentum and that the new bill could come out of the House.

“This bill makes so much sense and it will be widely supported,” he said. “He doesn’t need to ride on a bigger bill, he can stand on his own.”

What else has been done to target contradictory purchases of US land by foreign governments?

A bill known as the PASS Act, Promoting Agricultural Safeguards and Security Act, was introduced in February by Sen. Mike Rounds, R-SD, which seeks to prohibit antagonistic foreign governments from investing in U.S. farmland and to flag the risk of foreign takeovers and investments in the US agricultural industry. A similar bill was introduced by Johnson last year but failed to make it out of the House.

The proposed PASS 2022 bill followed the purchase by a Chinese company, Fufeng Group, of land near Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota. This event also inspired Governor Kristi Noem to push for legislation in the 2023 legislative session that would have created an independent state-run council similar to CFIUS. This legislation ultimately failed.

More: Senator Mike Rounds introduces Senate version of PASS Act

But a new South Dakota law that took effect July 1 prohibits the state from doing business with “prohibited entities” from China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia or Venezuela.

What else does the proposed federal legislation do?

In a press release from Johnson’s office, five additional actions of the legislation were outlined.

These actions included giving CFIUS jurisdiction over all purchases of rural, non-individual land “housing units” by foreign governments, asking CFIUS to consider U.S. food security in national security reviews, establish a “presumption of insolvency” and raise the approval threshold for transactions. near sensitive sites, mandatory filing with CFIUS for adversarial foreign entities making land purchases near sensitive sites and requiring the organization to expand the list of national security sensitive sites to include military installations, national laboratories, etc. .

More: Noem signs bill prohibiting certain foreign governments from doing business with SD

Johnson explained that currently, if a foreign government wants to do business with CFIUS, the agreement must meet CFIUS standards and if the agreement does not, CFIUS can make recommendations to the foreign government so that it can meet the standard. The new bill would make this more difficult.

“We want to do here is more like say ‘no, change your default’ – start by assuming that you can’t make small changes to resolve these conflicts,” Johnson said. “Essentially, the burden of proof is on the other side and we better be sure we have proven that US interests are not harmed by approving Chinese investments.”

This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: SD Rep. Dusty Johnson pushes for controls on foreign farmland purchases

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