American Soil Should Remain in American Hands

This article was published in The Courier.

Governor Reynolds is proposing new legislation to “further protect our farmland from foreign interests.”

Defending American sovereignty is vital and Governor Kim Reynolds is working diligently to protect Iowa and the nation from the growing threat posed by China. From both an economic and national security standpoint, China likely represents the most dangerous risk to the United States.  As it expands its presence across the globe, China is even attempting to establish a foothold in the United States.

One particular area of concern for Iowans is Chinese ownership of farmland and other aspects of American agriculture.  Governor Reynolds used her Condition of the State Address to highlight not only that danger, but also her proposal to “further protect our farmland from foreign interests.” The goal of legislation the governor is proposing will be to “enhance reporting and enforcement, increase penalties, and provide more transparency to Iowans on what land is currently under foreign ownership.”

“Iowa has some of the strongest laws in the country on foreign ownership of land,” as noted by Governor Reynolds in her speech. Nevertheless, there are ways that state-level land ownership restrictions can be evaded by foreign investors. Iowa’s laws do a good job of ensuring Iowa farmland stays in the hands of domestic producers, but they should be strengthened. In addition, what is more possible for our state is that the other components of food production, like processing plants, could be acquired and controlled by foreign nations.  Governor Reynolds argues that “as China’s threat adopts, our laws should too.”

Specifically, the governor’s proposed legislation will:

  • Require additional information from entities on mandatory reports filed with the Secretary of State each year, including complete ownership structure for an entity and a complete list of landholdings in the United States.
  • Enhance enforcement by granting the Attorney General subpoena powers to further investigate suspected wrongdoing, ensuring bad actors are exposed and held accountable.
  • Increase financial penalties for failing to register with the Secretary of State or falsifying information on registration or ongoing reports.
  • Require the Secretary of State to file an annual report to the Governor and General Assembly on all records of foreign land ownership for both new purchases and existing land holdings.

Governor Reynolds correctly notes that “we cannot let foreign governments undermine the agricultural dominance our farmers have worked so hard to build.”

It is not just in agriculture and land ownership that China poses a threat. For decades, the United States has been running massive trade deficits, especially with China. It is estimated that at least 4 million manufacturing jobs have been lost to China. Iowa is known as an agricultural state, but it is often forgotten that manufacturing is a major pillar of the state’s economy, too. Since 2001, it is estimated that Iowa has lost 33,714 jobs to China.

It is clear China is a growing power.  Although it has its own internal economic and political problems, China continues to expand its reach across the globe, both economically and militarily.  We all must be prepared to defend against the threats of communist China.  That’s why it was so important that Governor Reynolds highlighted policy solutions that went beyond her pro-growth economic agenda. As the governor stated, the solutions don’t have to be difficult to understand, “Let’s make sure that American soil remains in American hands.”

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