In an interview with South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD) warned about the dangers of letting “legitimate villains” like China have access to American agricultural companies and farmland.
“Food security is national security,” Johnson said during the interview. “When it comes to people who announce themselves as enemies of the United States, we should not be giving them power over us.”
Johnson said that it was important to “decouple” critical industries, like healthcare, energy, and agriculture, from countries like China who are seeking to displace America on the world’s stage.
His comments come as there have been reports of Chinese companies buying up farmland all over the U.S., and he said that a similar situation would not have happened during the Cold War.
“I don’t think we would have let, in the 1980s, the Soviets come in and purchase critical parts of American infrastructure, particularly related to food. I don’t think we should let the Chinese do it now either,” Johnson said.
The representative also touted a bill he was co-sponsoring in the House alongside House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who introduced the Promoting Agriculture Safeguards and Security (PASS) Act earlier this month.
The PASS Act would ban countries like China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea from buying American agricultural companies.
“China’s efforts to influence American agriculture threatens U.S. security – this bill is commonsense,” Johnson said. “We have experienced numerous black swan events in the past few years, and we can’t risk allowing our adversaries closer access to our food and supply chains.”
His comments come after a report earlier this month that a Chinese flavor and sugar substitute company, the Fufeng Group, purchased 300 acres of land in North Dakota just 20 minutes from an Air Force base. The base, Grand Forks Air Force Base, is thought to be home to sensitive military drone technology, according to the New York Post.
Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) said that he was suspicious of the purchase.
“I think we grossly underappreciate how effective they are at collecting information, collecting data, using it in nefarious ways,” he told CNBC. “And so I’d just as soon not have the Chinese Communist Party doing business in my backyard.”