New legislation from a bipartisan pair of Senate Ag Committee members adds an additional wrinkle to the conversation about foreign purchases of U.S. farmland.

On Tuesday, Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, introduced the Farm Credit for Americans Act. If enacted, the legislation would prohibit Farm Credit lenders from lending to foreign nationals. As written, the bill would become effective Jan. 1, 2024, and grandfather in any loans entered into prior to that date.  

According to a release from the senators, the Farm Credit Administration – which governs Farm Credit lenders across the country – has been allowing Farm Credit System associations since 1997 "to extend credit to certain foreign nationals who are not permanent residents of the United States and to foreign-owned entities."

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In a statement, Farm Credit Council President and CEO Todd Van Hoose said FCC has “not yet had the opportunity to review the text of the legislation.”

“We appreciate Senator Grassley’s and Senator Brown’s attention to the needs of U.S. farmers and ranchers,” he said. "This is a very complex issue, and we are working to better understand their perspectives on it and how this legislation might impact production agriculture in the U.S.”

Purchases of American farmland by foreign nationals have been under the microscope in recent years on Capitol Hill. A recent Agri-Pulse report also found USDA’s enforcement of the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act, which requires foreign nationals to report their farmland purchases to USDA, has lagged in the last decade despite a surge in purchased parcels.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Grassley also said he expects a congressional focus in the upcoming farm bill on “making sure that the Farm Credit system is supporting American family farmers and ranchers, and that means making sure that U.S. government agencies are not in any way subsidizing foreign or corporate investors.”

In a statement, Brown argued Farm Credit should not “benefit foreign investors and hostile governments.”

The legislation "will put in place a clear standard: American taxpayer dollars should not be used as a financing tool for foreign governments to undermine our national security and take our farms,” Brown said.

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