Sen. Mike Rounds introduces Senate version of PASS Act

·2 min read
Senator Mike Rounds, R-SD, questions Denis McDonough, Secretary of Veterans Affairs nominee for President Joe Biden, during his Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee confirmation hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on January 27, 2021.
Senator Mike Rounds, R-SD, questions Denis McDonough, Secretary of Veterans Affairs nominee for President Joe Biden, during his Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee confirmation hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on January 27, 2021.

Sen. Mike Rounds, R-SD, introduced a bill that would prevent foreign powers like China from buying U.S. agricultural land, according to a press release.

The bill plays off of the PASS Act introduced on the House side earlier in July by Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and co-sponsored by Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D.

The Senate bill (S. 4786) would amend the 1950 Defense Production Act to allow for the review of agricultural transactions, according to the bill's language.

The difference between Rounds' bill and the Promoting Agriculture Safeguards and Security (PASS) Act includes prohibiting China, Russia, Iran and North Korea from investing in agricultural land, as well as requiring the Secretary of Agriculture to report on the risk of foreign takeovers and investments in agricultural companies or land use for ag purposes.

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“Protecting American farmland is critical to maintaining our national security,” said Rounds. “In my travels around South Dakota, I’ve heard from many farmers and ranchers who are concerned about foreign adversaries owning American farmland. This legislation makes certain American interests are protected by blacklisting foreign adversaries from purchasing land or businesses involved in agriculture.”

The introduced legislation comes after the news that a China-based firm called Fufeng Group purchased a 300-acre parcel of farmland near Grand Forks, North Dakota, located a few miles from a U.S. military base.

Foreign-owned companies like China-based Smithfield Foods and JBS, which has Brazilian ties, have purchased billions of acres of agricultural land, according to earlier reporting.

More than 350,000 acres of farmland in South Dakota belongs to foreign businesses, despite a 1979 law barring non-resident foreigners from owning more than 160 acres.

Rounds and Sen. John Thune, R-SD, have already voiced their support for the PASS Act.

Both bills have been referred to their specific committees for consideration after Congress returns from the August holiday.

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This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Sen. Mike Rounds introduces Senate version of PASS Act