In a rare act of brief lucidity, sweatshirt-wearing Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman broke down the emerging threat China poses within our borders.

Senator Fetterman likely has no idea how food gets to his table, but he is at least “with-it” enough to know that China’s increased interest in gobbling up our agricultural real estate is a problem.

This week, members of Congress discussed the need for greater federal oversight of foreign land investments, proving that it seems there is at least one area in which our politicians understand the nature of their jobs. 

The next attack on our homeland may not come with explosions or shock and awe, but a slow squeeze around the throats of supply chains meant to provide the basics for life, in this case, food. Let’s see what Senator Fetterman had to say and what this new national security threat entails.

Sound comparison

This week, legislators met to discuss their attempt to regulate foreign ownership of U.S. real estate, particularly in the agricultural sector.

Wearing his signature loungewear outfit, Democratic Senator John Fetterman said:

“The Chinese government and other U.S. adversaries should own zero, zero agricultural land in our country. I believe that.”

I must say, I was taken aback. Even John Fetterman gets it regarding this threat within our borders. It almost makes me want to make a doctor’s appointment to ensure everything is ticking around alright, given that I find something I understand and agree with coming from the Pennsylvania Senator.

He went on to assure us, though, that he’s still the same old Fetterman with this follow-up gem:

“I mean, they’re taking back our pandas. You know, we should take back all their farmland.”

It’s not a valid comparison, but I’m here for it; I can see it now – ‘Pandas for Crops! Fetterman 2024!’. What a campaign that would be.

All joking aside, the increase in Chinese agricultural real estate investment in the U.S. is worthy of alarm and action. 

Too close for comfort

Chinese agricultural investment has increased tenfold between 2009 and 2016. Recently, Chinese companies and investors have made some concerning purchases near military installations.

In 2020, a Chinese company attempted to build a wind farm just two miles from Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas. Another Chinese company bought land near Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota.

Fast forward to last month, and a Chinese green energy firm bought land just 60 miles from a military armory and 100 miles from the largest training facility for the U.S. National Guard in Michigan. You can call me a conspiracy theorist, but these purchases were probably not made coincidentally.

Laughlin AFB is located in Del Rio, Texas, just under an hour from the border—a convenient location to set up shop if you want to keep an eye on southern border operations. Grand Forks AFB is home to the 319th Reconnaissance Wing, which supports the Global Hawk mission.

Having land so close to a base meant to combat China specifically would be strategically advantageous. Land that could be used to build surveillance devices that could intercept communications in and out of the base.

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Finally, having real estate close to the primary training facility for the branch of our Armed Services specifically meant to be mobilized by state leaders is a clear gem to have if one wants to attack us from within. Don’t kid yourself, dear reader; these aren’t innocent land grabs by independent Chinese companies.

There is no such thing as an independent anything in China. These are strategic purchases meant to posture the People’s Republic of China to spy and position themselves for future global domination through the guise of free enterprise.

Weaponization of food

Chinese interests have been creeping into our food supply system outside the abovementioned land near military installations. For example, a Chinese company has purchased Smithfield Foods.

Smithfield Foods is the United States’ largest pork processor. The United States Department of Agriculture also reported that foreign investors, including China, held close to 40 million acres of agricultural land as of 2021. 

Senator Joni Ernst exclaimed:

“That’s more than the entire state of Iowa!”

Congressman Frank Lucas of Oklahoma broke down this threat if left unchecked:

“Foreign holdings of U.S. agricultural land is dramatically exploding across the spectrum. It’s not just land to produce corn or beans in the Midwest or medical marijuana in Oklahoma; it’s buying assets that process agricultural products that continue to affect the entire U.S. supply.”

Farming isn’t just about the food in your grocery store. Farmers rely on fertilizers, seeds, equipment, and other items to get that food onto grocery store shelves. 

Democrat Senator Cory Booker explains:

“Who controls our farmland is really important, and honestly, my concern is also with who controls many other parts of our food system, including our seeds, meat processing, and grocery stores.”

It’s nice to see everyone on the same page for once on national security. So what can be done?

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Small step 

This unique act of bipartisan support surrounds The Agricultural Security Risk Review Act. Don’t get too excited; this doesn’t effectively ban foreign investment in our agricultural real estate or restrict Chinese investment.

What it does is put the Secretary of Agriculture on a board specifically designed to review foreign investments in agricultural land. Currently, the USDA requires foreign entities to report land purchases, but there are some concerns about it’s accuracy.

Montana Democrat Senator Jon Tester explains:

“I don’t know that we know for sure all the foreign land that potentially is owned by Chinese individuals or folks controlled by the Chinese government.”

This isn’t hard to imagine; the federal government isn’t well known for its bookkeeping or accounting. But will this be enough to protect us from the next big attack, an attack on our dinner tables?

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Congressman Lucas gave this grave warning:

“I would argue that, in addition to the importance of national security – the guns and the bullets and the planes and the resources to defend ourselves – if we cannot feed ourselves, then we are lost.”

I don’t know about you, but I might look into getting some of my own piggies and seeds – start myself a little off-the-grid personal farm. 

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