NPR, Dem Sen. Tester: Data on Chinese Land Purchases Is ‘Old’ and Reporting Requirements Aren’t Strongly Enforced

During a report aired on Monday’s broadcast of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” NPR Reporter Ximena Bustillo noted that data on land acquisitions by Chinese entities and individuals and foreign entities and individuals in general is old data from 2021 and that penalties for failing to report land purchases are low. The segment also played sound from Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) where Tester expressed concerns that reporting on foreign land ownership is flawed.

Bustillo said, “I requested the data from USDA — which is the Agriculture Department — which shows that China is number 18 on the list of countries with the most land in the United States. The number 1 is actually Canada. And it’s important to note that we’re talking about a very small slice of all U.S. land. The amount marked as China-owned is also even less than the size of the State of Rhode Island. Foreign entities generally — so all countries — own just a tiny fraction of all U.S. land, and they account for just over 3% of all privately-held agricultural land in the U.S. as of 2020, which is when we have the latest numbers.”

She added that the overwhelming majority of Chinese farmland holdings are held by two Chinese companies, and “Lawmakers in both states and in Washington on both sides of the aisle are looking to block Chinese ownership. A lot is happening amid broader tensions between the U.S. and China on a range of issues. So, Chinese land purchases, however minor, are being viewed through the same lens. The first concern is lack of data. It’s old, from 2021. And although USDA requires anyone purchasing land to report it, the penalty for not reporting is low. I spoke to Democratic Sen. Jon Tester from Montana, who is leading one of the efforts to block Chinese ownership.”

She then played a clip of Tester saying, “I think, in a lot of cases, we don’t have good reporting because people don’t know, that purchase land in the United States, that they have to report.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett


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