HEADLINE USA – Citing the national security risk, politicians on both sides of the aisle are aiming to crack down on Chinese purchasing of agricultural land in the U.S.
“America cannot allow China to control our food supply,” former Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday during a speech at the conservative Heritage Foundation, urging President Joe Biden and Congress to “end all farm subsidies for land owned by foreign nationals,” according to Politico.
Pence has been joined by notable figures on the left such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who campaigned for president on a promise to ban non-resident foreigners from buying farmland for agricultural purposes similar to a law already enacted in Iowa.
“I support a national version of that law and, as president, will use all available tools to restrict foreign ownership of American agriculture companies and farmland,” Warren said, according to the Associated Press.
The issue of food supply has become more urgent in the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic, with widespread shortages of everything from beef to chicken wings.
In 2019, China was forced to slaughter up to 60% of its hog stock trying to combat a pandemic of swine flu, raising prices in China.
One solution was for China to buy up U.S. agricultural pork producers like Smithfield Foods to secure more pork for its 1.4 billion people.
Pork is a particularly sensitive food item in China because it represents middle-class prosperity, which the Chinese Communist Party cites to establish its legitimacy.
The Chinese shortages have exacerbated the American need for better supply-chain security for food, ringing alarms for Congress.
“The current trend in the U.S. is leading us toward the creation of a Chinese-owned agricultural land monopoly,” Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., said during recent hearing.
The committee subsequently approved a measure that would bar agricultural purchases that are made by any entity owned wholly or in part by the Chinese Communist Party.
The more conspiracy-minded may see something more sinister in China’s buy up of agricultural land when paired with China’s aggressive efforts to manipulate US policy in other ways, from currency manipulation to espionage to biological warfare.
As it attempted to do with personal-protective equipment in the early days of the Wuhan-borne pandemic, China could again try to create a supply-and-demand crisis that would force America to make concessions.
But even more alarming are recent reports that Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who has been known for expressing his Chinese sympathies and depopulationist worldview, is now the largest private owner of farmland in America.
Headline USA’s Ben Sellers contributed to this report.