Home US Indiana farmers raise national security fears as China buys up over 600 acres, as lawmakers try to ban purchases near military bases amid spying threat

Indiana farmers raise national security fears as China buys up over 600 acres, as lawmakers try to ban purchases near military bases amid spying threat

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China is identified as the owner of agricultural land in Indiana, with three separate entities owning a total of 618 acres in three different counties.

Indiana lawmakers are considering a bill to ban certain ownership of farmland by China and other adversaries, following similar moves in dozens of other states.

Earlier this month, the Indiana State House unanimously passed a bill to prohibit any citizen or entity related to a “foreign adversary” from purchasing agricultural land in Indiana after July 1.

This week, a Senate committee approved the bill, adding language prohibiting the purchase of any land, except residential leases, within 50 miles of a military base or 10 miles of an armory or maintenance facility.

It comes after Indiana farmers and others raised concerns that Chinese ownership of land in the state could pose a national security threat.

“This could be the most important bill we have regarding the security of the entire state of Indiana,” said Republican state Sen. Jean Leising, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, according to WTHR-TV.

China is identified as the owner of agricultural land in Indiana, with three separate entities owning a total of 618 acres in three different counties.

China is identified as the owner of agricultural land in Indiana, with three separate entities owning a total of 618 acres in three different counties.

Indiana lawmakers are considering a bill to ban certain ownership of farmland by China and other adversaries (file photo)

Indiana lawmakers are considering a bill to ban certain ownership of farmland by China and other adversaries (file photo)

Indiana lawmakers are considering a bill to ban certain ownership of farmland by China and other adversaries (file photo)

Indiana’s bill does not ban specific countries, but defers to the U.S. Commerce Department’s adversaries list, which currently includes China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and Cuba.

Of those, only China is identified as owning farmland in Indiana, with three separate entities owning a total of 618 acres in three different counties, according to WISH-TV.

In addition, Syngenta, a subsidiary of the Chinese firm Sinochem Holdings Corporation, leases about 170 acres.

Those holdings would be protected and not affected by the proposed law, which would prohibit purchases by a foreign adversary after July 1.

At least 24 other U.S. states have passed similar laws restricting certain forms of foreign land ownership.

Federal data shows that Chinese companies and investors own just over 383,934 acres in the US in 2021, making it the 18th largest foreign investor.

That’s far less than the land owned by the major foreign owners: Canada, the Netherlands, Italy, the United Kingdom and Germany.

But China’s status as an adversary and rising tensions between Washington and Beijing have raised concerns about Chinese land ownership.

“This could be the most important bill we have regarding the security of the entire state of Indiana,” said Republican state Sen. Jean Leising, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Leising, the bill's Senate sponsor, said she would support an amendment exempting dual U.S.-Chinese nationals from the ban.

Leising, the bill's Senate sponsor, said she would support an amendment exempting dual U.S.-Chinese nationals from the ban.

Leising, the bill’s Senate sponsor, said she would support an amendment exempting dual U.S.-Chinese nationals from the ban.

Brian Cavanaugh, who served as the National Security Council’s senior advisor on resilience during the Trump Administration, testified before the Indiana Senate Agriculture Committee on Monday.

“Many national security experts, including myself, believe that China represents the greatest threat to our national security in this generation,” he told the panel.

During the hearing, some lawmakers expressed concern that the law would ensnare Chinese dissidents who fled the country in search of a better life in the United States.

Leising, the bill’s Senate sponsor, said she would support an amendment exempting dual U.S.-Chinese nationals from the ban.

At least 24 states, including Montana, Virginia, Alabama and Idaho, have passed laws restricting the ability of Chinese citizens to purchase certain properties.

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