Vilsack on China's Farmland Buys

Vilsack on China's Farmland Buys

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
From the Ag Information Network, I’m Bob Larson. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack told House Ag lawmakers recently that no matter how much Congress tries, USDA’s tracking of China’s farmland buys in the U.S. will always be troublesome.

China’s U.S. farmland buys and other nefarious dealings have raised U.S. concerns and prompted recent sanctions against certain Chinese buyers.

But Secretary Vilsack warns there’s just so much USDA can do

to track Beijing’s buys of U.S. farmland …

VILSACK … “No matter how much money you give us, it will always be imperfect for this reason: there are over three thousand county recorder offices around the country. Every county has a recorder’s office. It would require us to have a centralized database where every real estate transaction would essentially be put into a database to look at.”

But Vilsack says USDA’s moving ahead with other efforts, including on the GAO’s recommendation to work more closely with agencies linked to the Treasury’s Committee on Foreign U.S. Investments …

VILSACK … “I made a request of the Treasury Department for us to be more engaged in issues involving agribusiness, agriculture, farmland, and we have. We’ve been engaged and involved in a number of projects. We appreciate the fact that in this 2024 budget that was recently passed, it provided resources for the first time directly assisting us to expand staffing for that purpose.”

Vilsack says the USDA is also expanding its review of loans and tax records to identify foreign land purchases. Vilsack says Congress directed USDA to set up a web portal for data but never provided the funds to do it.

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