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Adam Minter

Don’t Ban Chinese Investment in US Farmland

Foreign ownership raises legitimate fears but national food security is enhanced by outsiders who seek economic opportunity in rural areas.

Soybeans or missile silos?

Soybeans or missile silos?

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

What happens to America's food supply if foreigners, and not American farmers, own the amber waves of grain? It's an old fear that's generating new tensions, thanks to a Chinese company's acquisition of 300 acres of North Dakota farmland .

The company plans to build a corn milling operation. Opponents fear that it will also build the capacity to surveil the nearby Grand Forks Air Force Base. As debate over the investment flares, at least two pieces of legislation have been introduced in Congress that would prohibit Chinese nationals or entities from owning or leasing US agricultural assets, including farmland.