WASHINGTON — Today, Congressmen Ronny Jackson (R-TX) and Filemon Vela (D-TX) introduced the bipartisan Foreign Adversary Risk Management (FARM) Act, which would combat foreign interference in America’s agriculture supply chain through reforms to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.
Jackson said: “Foreign interference in America’s agriculture supply chain poses a serious national security threat, especially given that the worst proponent is the Chinese Communist Party. I represent the top-rated agriculture district in Texas, so protecting this vital industry and its overarching supply chains will always be among my top priorities in Congress. Our adversaries are working overtime to undermine American interests, and the FARM Act will be an important step to secure America’s food supply by identifying and responding to inappropriate interference.”
Vela said: “Our food systems are vital to our national security and we must be vigilant to preserve their integrity. As we saw following the pandemic, food processing plants were forced to close and shipping routes for agricultural inputs were delayed. It disrupted the supply chains farmers use to get products from the farm to consumers, which contributed to declining food security in the United States. This bill increases federal scrutiny of foreign investments in U.S. industry that could undermine our agricultural supply chains by adding the Secretary of Agriculture to CFIUS and designating agricultural supply chains as key infrastructure under the CFIUS review process.”
Tuberville said: “The pandemic has underscored the critical contributions of our farmers, ranchers, and agriculture community to ensure our country remains food secure even in the face of unprecedented times. Food security is national security, which is why the agriculture industry needs a seat at the table for the foreign investment vetting process. By adding agricultural supply chains as a covered transaction for CFIUS review, we can safeguard our food supply chains and agriculture industry from bad actors.”
Texas Farm Bureau President Russell Boening said: “Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) applauds Sen. Tommy Tuberville and U.S. Congressmen Ronny Jackson and Filemon Vela for introducing the FARM Act. As Texas has experienced a surge of foreign investors buying agricultural land, it is critical that proper oversight is provided to ensure our national security. We are pleased this bill accomplishes this goal, while in-turn protecting private property rights of landowners who wish to sell their property. TFB appreciates these Congressional leaders for their steadfast leadership on this issue, and we look forward to working with them to secure passage of this bipartisan legislation.”
Additional background from Bill Thompson of Agri-Pulse can be found here. Jackson serves as Co-Chair of the Texas Agriculture Task Force.
Foreign investment in the American agriculture industry has grown at a rapid and dangerous pace, as foreign investors currently control at least 28.3 million acres of agriculture land valued at $52.2 billion. The FARM Act will help counter foreign investment into, and interference of, the American agriculture industry by modernizing CFIUS. Specifically, this bill would reform CFIUS by:
• designating the agriculture industry and overarching supply chains as critical infrastructure,
• requiring CFIUS to monitor foreign investment into our agriculture industry, and
• adding the Secretary of Agriculture as a member of CFIUS.
Additionally, the FARM Act would require the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate and report to Congress on the national security implications of foreign investment into the American agriculture sector.
Original cosponsors of the FARM Act include Representatives Michael Burgess (TX-26), Tony Gonzales (TX-23), Jim Baird (IN-04), Maria Salazar (FL-27), Mary Miller (IL-15), Steve Womack (AR-03), Ted Budd (NC-13), Michael Guest (MS-03), and Kat Cammack (FL-03).