Atlanta, Ga - In case you missed it, earlier this week Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper penned an Op-Ed for James Magazine voicing his full support for legislation to restrict adversarial foreign nations and their agents from purchasing Georgia farmland in the upcoming 2024 legislative session. This legislation is essential to protect Georgia farm families, their livelihoods, and our state’s #1 industry - agriculture, and Commissioner Harper looks forward to working with the Legislature to accomplish this goal. Full text of the Op-Ed is available below.
Georgia Farmland for Georgia Farmers, Not Adversarial Foreign Nations
When you go to the grocery store or pick up a new pair of jeans at the mall, you probably don’t put much thought into where that product came from-much less who produced it. But if the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that our supply chains and food production are far too dependent on foreign countries-and producing more of our own food, fiber, and shelter here at home will be critically important over the coming years.
Over the past few years, dozens of states have passed legislation restricting or banning foreign adversaries from purchasing American farmland, and I believe it’s past time for Georgia to lead the charge by adding its name to the list. As Georgia’s 17th Agriculture Commissioner, I look forward to working with our Legislature to do just that during the upcoming legislative session to protect our farmers, our farmland, and our state’s #1 industry.
While it may not be top of mind for most Americans, agriculture and food security are vital parts of our national security. Americans have access to the safest, most affordable, and most abundant food supply in the world thanks to the tireless work of American farmers who provide the food, fiber, and shelter we all rely on. Here in Georgia, agriculture is our number one industry, generating more than $70 billion in economic impact annually and employing more than 400,000 Georgians. Our state is also one of the most agriculturally diverse. Our farmers grow a wide variety of crops on more than 9.9 million acres that account for more than two percent of all U.S. agricultural sales.
However, if we cannot produce that food, fiber, and shelter right here at home, within our own borders, we’re less safe as a community, less safe as a state, and less safe as a nation.
Chinese ownership of U.S. agricultural land is increasing at an alarming rate, and this increase poses a significant threat not only to the livelihoods of American farmers and producers but to America’s national security. In the past decade, Chinese investors and business entities have increased their holdings of American farmland by over 1,000%, from $81 million in 2010 to more than $1.9 billion in 2021. Chinese landowners currently control 383,000 acres of US farmland, and their investments are only growing.
Earlier this year, Fufeng Group, a Chinese company with deep ties to the Chinese Communist Party, attempted to build a wet corn mill in North Dakota - 12 miles away from Grand Forks Air Force Base. In 2021, officials in Texas blocked a similarly concerning development when a Chinese billionaire with close ties to the CCP attempted to purchase 100,000 acres near McLaughlin Air Force Base. It’s clear that China’s end goal is to buy up U.S. farmland, control the nation’s food supply, and force us to be fully reliant on the Communist regime for our food production.
We cannot let this happen in Georgia. Our agriculture industry is the lifeblood of our state’s economy and a pillar of American food production. We must act swiftly and decisively to protect our state’s number one industry and our farmland. Here at home, restricting or banning adversaries from purchasing American farmland is the first step in fighting back, protecting our food supply, and keeping Georgia’s number one industry successful for generations to come.###