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Lankford Pushes to Protect Oklahoma Farmland from Foreign Nationals

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today introduced the bipartisan Security and Oversight of International Landholdings (SOIL) Act, along with Senators Jim Risch (R-ID), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Michael Bennet (D-CO), in order to provide oversight and transparency of purchases of US agricultural land that threaten national security. On the heels of a successful rejection of allowing more marijuana growth in the state, Lankford continues to respond to concerns from Oklahomans about the multiple recent purchases of Oklahoma agricultural land by foreign entities. 

“Our state overwhelming rejected ‘legalizing’ recreational marijuana earlier this month because we have seen firsthand how foreign criminal organizations exploit vulnerabilities in our law to destroy our families and communities for their profit,” said Lankford. “Every region of Oklahoma is concerned about foreign nationals buying up farmland. Our loose oversight has allowed transnational criminal organizations to partner with Chinese nationals to buy land and businesses throughout Oklahoma. This is a national security issue and a human rights issue. We need to know who is buying our land, how they are using it and if any criminal activity is occurring.”

Oklahoma has over 7,000 licensed marijuana grows. The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics (OBN) believes that 2,000 of those farms have a Chinese connection. The marijuana market in Oklahoma has ushered in other serious crimes like human trafficking, forced labor, and money laundering. 

“While there’s no question America has some of the best farmland in the world, it’s doubtful China is buying it up to plant more wheat and potatoes,” said Risch. “The SOIL Act will introduce stricter measures and oversight to prevent bad actors, like China and Russia, from purchasing our agricultural land—particularly land near US military installations.”

“Food security is national security, and it’s alarming how the Chinese Communist Party has been buying up American farmland as fast as they can,” said Tillis. “This commonsense legislation increases transparency and oversight on these purchases so we can protect both North Carolina farmers and the world’s most abundant food supply from our adversaries.”

“For too long, Washington has allowed foreign adversaries like China and Russia to buy up American farmland and its precious water resources while our family farmers and our economies became collateral damage. For the sake of American growers, farmers, and ranchers, we need to modernize and strengthen our tools to evaluate the risk of these foreign purchases on our supply chains and our national security,” said Bennet.

Background

The SOIL Act deters criminal investment in US agriculture by:

  1. Requiring Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) review of agriculture real estate purchases by certain foreign entities
  2. Banning federal assistance for certain foreign-held real estate holdings
  3. Broadening disclosure requirements for land purchases made by foreign entities

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