Monday, April 20, 2020

Lucas helps introduce bill increasing scrutiny of foreign investment in US agriculture

Lucas, Fudge Introduce Legislation Increasing Scrutiny of Foreign Investment in Agricultural Businesses

Cheyenne, OK  – Today, Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) and Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (OH-11) introduced the Agricultural Security Risk Review Act, formally placing the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary as a member of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). The Agricultural Security Risk Review Act ensures that CFIUS is operating effectively and efficiently to determine if a transaction, including agricultural, threatens to impair the national security of the United States.

“I am proud to be introducing this important piece of legislation with my good friend, Congresswoman Fudge, that works to ensure that foreign investment in our nation’s agricultural sector is given the amount of scrutiny needed to protect and maintain our national security,” said Congressman Lucas.

“I’ve always known that food security is a vital part of our national security but in the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans have been able to see that firsthand. I believe that foreign investment in our nation’s food supply chain deserves increased scrutiny and that’s why I am introducing this important piece of legislation today.”

“The safety and resilience of America’s food supply is critical to feeding our population, and therefore the security of our nation,” said Rep. Fudge.

“Despite increasing foreign investment in U.S. agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture lacks a permanent seat at the table with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States’ review of foreign transactions.  By formally including the Secretary of Agriculture on the Committee, the Agricultural Security Risk Review Act ensures the availability of USDA’s expertise in the security risk analysis of all foreign investments, including those involving our nation’s food supply.”

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is an interagency committee that reviews potential national security threats of foreign investment in the United States. CFIUS consists of nine members, chaired by the Secretary of the Treasury, and includes the Secretaries of State, Defense, Homeland Security, Commerce, and Energy, the United States Trade Representative, the Attorney General, and the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

CFIUS members informally screen proposed foreign investments into the United States before launching a formal review.

In order for the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to be included in investigations, the Secretary of the Treasury must designate USDA as a part of the review. Without this designation, USDA does not participate in any of the review process and is not consulted in the CFIUS recommendation to the President.

Foreign ownership of U.S. farmland and agricultural businesses has steadily increased. The growing concentration of foreign investment in the U.S. agricultural sector should necessitate that expert analysis of this sector be available to the Committee. CFIUS has the authority to review food and agricultural transactions to ensure the safety and resiliency of U.S. food supply but lacks the agricultural expertise of USDA in the review process.


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