Tennessee’s Republican state legislators want to loosen foreign influence- a new bill being considered would limit foreign ownership of agricultural land. The bill wouldn’t limit foreign ownership of land for any other purposes. It also wouldn’t apply retroactively.
State Senator Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) first introduced the bill, followed by State Representative Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station).
Discussion from the Senate Energy, Agriculture, and National Resources Committee hearing clarified that this bill sought to protect farmers – and that they aren’t in opposition to it, either.
“Like I said, it’s been tested for 42 years in Iowa, and it’s working out there,” stated Niceley. “There’s a lot of concern about, you know, people buying America.”
According to estimations on this bill’s fiscal impact, the cost to the state would amount to over $132,600 per year.
Due to the increasing presence of foreign influence in the country, the USDA created the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act (AFIDA) which requires that foreign companies disclose holdings and transaction information.
In 2019, the AFIDA report estimated that foreign investors owned over 35.2 million acres of American farmland. That’s 2.7 percent of all privately-held agricultural land and 1.5 percent of all land in the country.
That’s roughly more acres than about 25 states have, respectively. An overwhelming majority of the foreign investors flocked to the outermost parts of the eastern and western areas of the country.
Another state currently considering similar legislation is Missouri, following concerns over anti-competitive market conditions due to foreign control.
The Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill on Thursday. The House will consider it during a subcommittee hearing on Tuesday.
– – –