In a Capitol Hill hearing this week, Vilsack endorsed Ag Sec oversight of foreign investment
WASHINGTON — At a House Agriculture Committee hearing earlier this week, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary (USDA) Tom Vilsack endorsed the central provision of U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville’s (R-AL) legislation, the Foreign Adversary Risk Management (FARM) Act. Senator Tuberville and U.S. Representative Ronny Jackson (R-TX-13) introducedthe bipartisan, bicameral FARM Act earlier this year to protect America’s agricultural industry from improper foreign investment.
Tuberville’s legislation would make agriculture a priority for federal oversight of foreign investment by adding the Secretary of Agriculture to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
U.S. Representative Rick Crawford (R-AR-01) asked Secretary Vilsack directly about this proposal in a House Agriculture Committee hearing on Wednesday, and Secretary Vilsack responded with the following:
“There is, in fact, an agricultural interest in a particular company or a particular transaction,” said Secretary Vilsack.“Being a permanent member [of CFIUS] would allow us to educate the other members of CFIUS about what to look for and what to be sensitive to when it comes to agriculture and agriculture production.”
When reintroducing the FARM Act in January, Senator Tuberville said:
“Over the past few years, we’ve seen an alarming increase in foreign purchases of farm land and food companies, particularly by China. These foreign investments are now reaching every piece of the very large puzzle that makes up our agriculture industry, from farming and processing, to packaging and shipping. That’s why America’s agriculture community needs to have a permanent seat at the table when our government vets foreign investment in our country. Adding all parts of the agricultural supply chain to the list of transactions reviewed by CFIUS is the first step toward ensuring America’s agricultural suppliers can keep food on tables across the country.”
Over the past few years, the United States has experienced a rapid increase in foreign investment in the agricultural sector, particularly from China. Growing foreign investment in agriculture and other essential industries, like health care and energy, threaten our country’s national security and ability to survive. Our agricultural sector needs increased oversight and transparency to secure our country’s food supply.
The FARM Act is a bipartisan, bicameral bill that would ensure that CFIUS acknowledges the importance of our agricultural industry and agricultural supply chains for our nation’s safe and secure food supply.
CFIUS is authorized to oversee and review foreign investment and ownership in domestic businesses as it relates to national security. Currently, the Committee does not directly consider the needs of the agriculture industry when reviewing foreign investment and ownership in domestic businesses.
Specifically, the FARM Act would:
- add the Secretary of Agriculture as a member to CFIUS;
- protect the U.S. agriculture industry from foreign control through transactions, mergers, acquisitions, or agreements; designate agricultural supply chains as critical infrastructure and critical technologies,
- and require a report to Congress on current and potential foreign investments in the U.S. agricultural industry fromUSDA and the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
Original cosponsors of the FARM Act in the Senate include Senators Mike Braun (R-IN), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), and Rick Scott (R-FL).