CRA Insights

GAO says USDA should improve its data on foreign ownership of US farmland

February 6, 2024
Combine harvester

For all the talk of semiconductors and social media algorithms, foreign ownership of US agricultural land remains one of the hottest topics in national security. In Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin, just to name a few,[1] politicians at both the federal and state levels have sponsored measures to increase regulation over foreign ownership of such land. Concerns range from proximity to military installations to the broader view that “food security is national security.”[2] So, it should not be surprising that Congress asked the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) to weigh in. GAO’s findings are unlikely to put many minds at ease, but perhaps not for the reasons you expect.

On January 18, 2024, GAO published “Foreign Investments in US Agricultural Land: Enhancing Efforts to Collect, Track, and Share Key Information Could Better Identify National Security Risks.”[3] GAO focused on the roles and authorities of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS or the “Committee”). Whenever GAO gives CFIUS feedback, it’s worth exploring further to see what clues it may hold for the future of regulating foreign investment.

Read the full CRA Insights here.

Key contacts