Q&A: Stop subsidizing foreign investments of U.S. farmland

With U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

Q: What is the Farm Credit for Americans Act?
A: As part of my ongoing crusade to protect the family farm and U.S. food security, I introduced this bipartisan legislation with Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who also serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee and is the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. Our bill would prevent foreign individuals from obtaining credit and financial services through the Farm Credit System (FCS). Right now, certain foreign individuals and entities are eligible to receive credit through this government-sponsored enterprise. I hear growing concern from Iowans at my 99 county meetings about the increase in foreign-owned farmland. The concern is justified. Food security is national security. Foreign ownership of U.S. farmland presents a potential threat to our domestic food supply. Foreign ownership of U.S. land increased by 2.4 million farm acres in 2020. If this trend continues, it will contribute to unfair competition for young and beginning farmers who seek to buy land. Building on my previous work for transparency and to get a better handle on foreign-owned farmland, our bill would ensure no foreign investors can use loans from a government-sponsored entity to buy up farm acres. The U.S. government serves the American people. We need to take steps to ensure foreign buyers, including those backed by the Communist Party of China, are not swallowing up prime land away from American family farmers with help from the U.S. government. That’s out of whack and another example why I work to keep federal programs on a short leash.
Q: What is the Farm Credit System (FCS)?
A: Created more than a century ago in 1916, the FCS provides credit to rural areas when commercial lenders were avoiding farm loans. It is mandated and limited by federal statute to serve agriculture. In 2021, FCS had a portfolio of approximately $210 billion in farm loans. As a government watchdog, I work to make sure federal programs are run as Congress intended. Regulations put in place by the FCS have allowed its network of lenders to extend credit to certain foreign nationals who are not permanent residents of the United States, as well as to foreign-owned entities. Our bipartisan bill would make foreign individuals and entities, as defined by the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act, ineligible for this financing. Since Iowans first elected me to Congress, I’ve championed the interests of Rural America and Iowa farm families to protect our way of life and livelihoods. Allowing foreign investors to buy up U.S. farmland with government-backed credit is wrong and raises a number of red flags, including risk to domestic food production. I was the original author of the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act. Transparency brings accountability. When foreign investors – backed by China – seek to gobble up bites of the food chain in America, Washington needs to wake up and smell the coffee. The federal government has a responsibility to protect American sovereignty. And food security is national security. That’s why I’ve also teamed up with Sen. Tammy Baldwin of neighboring Wisconsin to introduce the Farmland Security Act to bolster scrutiny of foreign investments in U.S. farmland and introduced the bipartisan Food Security is National Security Act with another Midwestern lawmaker, Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee. Our bill would give top U.S. agriculture and food officials a permanent seat at the decision-making table when reviewing transactions that could result in giving control of a U.S. business to a foreign company. Washington needs to scrutinize these deals and weigh the impact on American food security with a fine-toothed comb. As a watchdog for Rural America, I’ll keep barking as loud as it takes to protect the family farmer and all Americans who produce our food and earn a living along the farm to fork supply chain. This is a food fight we can’t afford to lose to ensure America’s prosperity and family farms are handed down from one generation to the next for centuries to come.

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204 N. Mill Street
Lake Mills, IA 50450

Office Number: (641) 592-4222
Fax Number: (641) 592-6397

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