Indiana Lawmakers Raises Security Concerns after Land Acquisition by Chinese Firms Especially Farms in the State

Indianapolis, IN: On Monday, the author of a measure on property ownership described Chinese acquisitions of Indiana farms as a matter of national security.

In early February, the House unanimously passed a bill to ban individuals or entities associated with a foreign foe from purchasing agricultural land in Indiana after July 1. The bill was unanimously adopted by a Senate panel on Monday morning. It now includes a provision that restricts the acquisition of any property, save for residential leases, within a 50-mile radius of a military base like NSA Crane or Grissom Air Reserve Base, or within 10 miles of an armory or maintenance facility.

Rep. Kendell Culp, R-Rensselaer, stated that he introduced the bill in reaction to the rising number of Chinese land acquisitions. He mentioned that Congress is in the process of developing comparable legislation, but it has not made significant progress thus far.

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According to USDA data, foreign investors owned about 43 million acres in the United States as of December 2022. Less than two-thirds of the land was owned by investors from Canada, the Netherlands, Italy, the United Kingdom, or Germany, all of which are NATO allies. Chinese investors possess little under 1% of all foreign-owned land in the United States. Their ownership has attracted attention, especially following an unsuccessful attempt by a Chinese business to construct a wet corn milling plant at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota.

Culp’s bill does not specify which countries are banned from purchasing land in Indiana. It pertains to any country identified as a foreign foe by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The list includes China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba. Culp intentionally took that action to avoid necessitating any modifications by lawmakers in the event that countries are included or excluded from the list.

China is the only foreign adversary that currently own land in Indiana among all of America’s foreign adversaries. 618 acres are owned outright by three distinct individuals and firms in Greene, Marion, and Noble counties. Syngenta, a seed corporation controlled by the Chinese enterprise Sinochem Holdings Corporation, rents around 170 acres. Those holdings would be exempted from any new regulations.

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The bill will now be reviewed by the entire Senate for further consideration. If accepted, it will need to return to the House due to modifications enacted by the Senate.

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