Brown efforts to protect farmland and technology from China included in National Defense bill

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 1, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, hosted a news conference call this week to announce that an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the Senate voted to include two bills to protect American industries, technology and farmland from foreign adversaries in the National Defense Authorization Act: the Promoting Agriculture Safeguards and Security (PASS) Act and the bipartisan Outbound Investment Transparency Act.

Both provisions received 91 votes on the Senate floor last night.

The bipartisan Promoting Agriculture Safeguards and Security (PASS) Act would prevent foreign adversaries like China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea from buying up farmland and food and agricultural businesses in Ohio and around the country, and require the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to consider agriculture needs when screening foreign investment affecting national security.

Email newsletter signup

“We can’t allow foreign adversaries to buy up farmland in Ohio and around the country,” Brown said. “It’s a threat to our national security, and it’s a threat to rural economies and our way of life.”

Chinese ownership of privately-held U.S. farmland grew 30 percent in a single year, from 2019 to 2020, while Chinese investment in the agribusiness industry continues to grow.

Additionally, the bipartisan Outbound Investment Transparency Act would allow us to better monitor potential risks to U.S. national security when companies make foreign investments that allow our adversaries to gain access to critical technology. The bill requires companies to notify the U.S. Department of Treasury when they invest in sensitive technology, like advanced semiconductors or artificial intelligence, in adversaries like China and Russia and allows the Treasury Department to monitor and scrutinize those investments.

“When companies outsource jobs, they outsource innovation and technological capabilities along with them. And China has been all too happy to use that technology – in many cases, steal it – to enhance its military capabilities,” said Brown. “Our bill would bring new transparency and help us understand the risks these investments pose to our economic and national security.”

As Chairman of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Brown convened hearings on this topic last September and this May.