China, our number one pacing threat, continues to grow its influence around the world in response to President Biden’s weak leadership. This week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken went to China on bended knee and sent a clear message of appeasement to our biggest adversary.
Earlier this year, Iowans watched as a Chinese spy balloon traversed thousands of miles of our sovereign country, collecting data and lingering over sensitive security sites, something President Biden called “silly.” He again gave China a free pass on this malign action saying it was “more embarrassing than intentional.” Yes, embarrassing for you, Mr. President.
What isn’t as overtly visible as a spy balloon, but represents just as great a threat to U.S. security, is the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) buying up our farmland and influencing the Department of Defense.
As our Iowa farmers know, food security is national security. This threat increases as Chinese ownership of U.S. land encroaches on our military bases.
Foreign ownership and investment in our agricultural land has nearly doubled over the last decade to more than 37 million acres, of which China owns at least 384,000. Thankfully in Iowa, we have laws on the books to prohibit this foreign ownership, but I’m calling for federal action to protect farmland across our nation.
America needs to know how our foreign adversaries are using loopholes to exploit any potential vulnerability and assert control over our agriculture industry. It’s time we overhaul the system!
My solution – the FARMLAND Act – will give us a clear picture of what foreign interests there are in our valuable farmland. The bipartisan effort completely revamps how the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) combats this issue, and Congress will have much more oversight of the process.
To no one’s surprise, the Biden administration has left every door in our federal government, including the Pentagon’s, open for foreign influence. That’s why I’m also working to prevent the DoD from contracting with consulting firms that simultaneously advise countries of concern, like China.
My Combating Obstructive National Security Underreporting of Legitimate Threats (CONSULT) Act of 2023 would cut the conflicts of interest out of the DoD, making sure no consultants hired by the U.S. government, at the expense of the taxpayer, are working simultaneously to support the agenda of our adversaries. We cannot afford to give our number one adversary any access to our nation’s security secrets.
Since the Biden administration has doubled down on its appeasement strategy with China, it’s past time we put safeguards in place. Combating the CCP’s malign threat of buying up U.S. agricultural land near military bases and preventing foreign influence in our military will help us strengthen our national security.
Our enemies don’t belong on our farms or in our federal government.
Joni Ernst, a native of Red Oak and a combat veteran, represents Iowa in the United States Senate.