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China poses danger to American agriculture

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

The House Agriculture Committee held a full committee hearing on March 20 in Washington, D.C. on the dangers China poses to American agriculture. 

In his opening statement, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) says, “The People’s Republic of China, governed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has gone out of its way to reduce its reliance on American agriculture, all the while aggressively pursuing tactics threatening our nation’s ability to feed itself.”

He notes over the last few years, China has stolen U.S. intellectual property, hacked critical cybersecurity and related infrastructure, weaponized agricultural trade and acquired American farmland at an alarming rate, disrupting national security, rural communities and the country’s resiliency.

“As many of you know, in 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated foreign investments in U.S. agricultural land grew to nearly 40 million acres,” he states.

However, a few months ago, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report showing gaps in the U.S. reporting framework and how improving the recording system could reduce national security risks related to foreign investment. 

He notes Congress recently took the first steps to address the pressing issue by passing the Consolidated Appropriations Act, focusing on foreign ownership of land by improving the tracking system.

Thompson adds, “China imports almost as much food as the U.S. exports to the whole world, which makes this conversation more difficult. In recent years, the U.S. has seen record export values to China for soybeans, corn, beef, chicken meat, tree nuts and sorghum, all of which are major contributors to our domestic farm economy, underscoring the importance of expanded market access and market diversity elsewhere.”

 “So, how do we strike the balance of protecting our producers and consumers and every piece of the agricultural value chain, while keeping pace with China’s needs?” he asks.

China’s influence 

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a former committee member, was one of the key witnesses testifying before the House Agriculture Committee.

 “Over the years, I have witnessed Chinaʼs work to take over America’s vital food supply chain systematically,” she states. “China is buying up our entire food supply chain, and when America can’t feed itself and relies on another country to feed us, it becomes a national security issue. The country that feeds us controls us.” 

Noem adds, “For decades we have watched China purchase American fertilizer companies and take ownership of chemical companies.”

“All of this makes us more dependent on China for crop care products, while the U.S. government offers citizenship to members of the CCP in exchange for investment and ownership of our food processing systems,” she points out. “Now, they’re buying up our land.”

Between 2010-20, the CCP holdings of U.S. agricultural land increased by 5,300 percent, according to Noem.

“Reports show China owns about 384,000 acres of U.S. ag land valued at about $2 billion,” she says. “USDA admits this may not even account for all of the land that has been purchased because the federal government does not monitor and track foreign interests in these large transactions.” 

She concludes by noting there is little reporting and very few consequences for allowing countries which dislike the U.S. to buy up the nation’s assets.

During the hearing, U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) went onto say the U.S. GAO recently reported the USDA is incapable of properly tracking agricultural land purchases by foreign adversaries. 

“In a January 2024 report, GAO found USDA published errors in the reporting of Peopleʼs Republic of China agricultural land holdings and discovered they did not effectively share data with the national security apparatus on land purchases in an effective manner,” he says. “We have little understanding of who really owns our land and who is operating in the U.S., yet the CCP’s new policies advocate for increased foreign land ownership.”

Gallagher concludes, “Our national security is jeopardized daily by our inability to respond to a very blatant threat – the CCP’s acquisition of U.S. farmland.”


Former Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture Kip Tom, an Indiana farmer, presents his perspective of China’s threat to the American food and agriculture systems to the committee.

“Americans need to understand our national security is dependent upon our food security – Americans cannot take our food systems for granted,” he testifies.

He adds, through experiencing multiple famines, Xi Jinping and the CCP have recognized the importance of food in relation to their position of power in the world and are strategically growing their agriculture production domestically and globally at the expense of the U.S.

Tom highlights a few threats China poses, including cybersecurity and intellectual property theft.

“Data-driven attacks place the U.S. at extreme risk, which could alter or disrupt our systems, lead to incorrect farming decisions and likely harm yields,” he adds. “Critical infrastructure from the electrical grid to supply chain logistics and broadband could be targeted, disrupting food supply chains.”

Tom says the U.S. government is aware of these threats but needs to strengthen the protection of the U.S. food supply, including identifying vulnerabilities and improving the protective measures of government and private entities against cyber threats.

“Portions of our supply chain have been offshored, including several critical building blocks for our food systems such as crop protection products and crop nutrients,” he says.

A recent USDA Supply Chain Report shows 70 percent of crop protection products are produced by the Chinese. 

“Imagine if they shut off our supply.  The economic impact of not using crop protection products in the U.S. would be significant. Without crop protection products, crop yields would decrease, requiring more land to maintain current production levels,” Tom stresses. “This would lead to higher consumer prices, food insecurity in the U.S. and around the world and a national security threat to the U.S. and our allies.”

Ag leader testifies

American Soybean Association President Josh Gackle, a third-generation soybean farmer from North Dakota, notes China accounts for nearly $19 billion of the total $32 billion of American soybeans exported last year.  

According to Gackle, the trade war between the U.S. and China in 2017-18 cost the U.S. agriculture industry approximately $27 billion. 

“As the U.S. considers actions to protect our national security interests, we must also maintain and protect our economic and trade interests,” Gackle concludes. “Soybean growers need predictability and certainty we will retain market access in China.”

China bought $29 billion in U.S. agricultural goods in 2023 after buying a record $38.1 billion in 2022. 

Sales to China continue to fall, and in January, sales to China were $3.1 billion, down 31 percent from a year earlier.

Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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