Newly-minted State Senator Doug Steinhardt, the former NJGOP chairman from Warren County, is wasting no time in taking on China from his new position. This week, he announced the introduction of legislation which would bar foreign ownership of New Jersey agricultural land; the ban would cover foreign governments and non-citizens with limited exceptions.
The problem is real. According to a Wall Street Journal report, “Department of Agriculture data show that Chinese ownership of U.S. farmland leapt more than 20-fold in a decade, from $81 million in 2010 to $1.8 billion in 2020…”
“Beijing hasn’t outlined a strategy, but large-scale state backing for these investments indicates there is one. In 2013 the government-owned Bank of China loaned $4 billion to Hong Kong-headquartered WH Group, the world’s largest pork producer, to buy Virginia’s Smithfield Foods. WH now controls much of the U.S. pork supply and revenue because of the deal.”
China has also moved to purchase land close to U.S. military instillations.
“We need to pay attention to the fact that China and its proxies have been buying up farmland across the United States,” said Steinhardt (R-23). “When you recognize that food security is national security, it quickly becomes clear that we need to prevent our agricultural lands in New Jersey from falling under the control of hostile foreign governments.”
Steinhardt’s bill would also compel the sale of any foreign-owned farmland within five years of enactment.
“We can’t make the same mistake with our farms that we made with other industries like manufacturing that we handed over to China and other adversaries and competitors,” Steinhardt continued. “You can live without your iPhone if China shuts off the supply from its factories, but you can’t live without the food that comes from our farms. It’s that simple.”