Congressman Lucas Introduces Legislation Increasing Scrutiny of Foreign Investment in Agricultural Businesses

May 20, 2021
Agriculture
Press

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) introduced the Agricultural Security Risk Review Act, legislation that would formally place 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.

“Protecting America’s agriculture security is a critical part of our national security,” said Congressman Lucas. “CFIUS is authorized to ensure that our country’s national security isn’t threated by foreign investment, and with an increasing amount of foreign investment in U.S. agriculture, including the Secretary of Agriculture as a member of CFIUS is long overdue. I know firsthand just how important our agriculture industry is, which is why Congress must remove the hurdles that keep USDA from having a permanent seat at the table with CFIUS’ review of foreign transactions.” 

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. Currently, 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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