You may have heard about the concern from some federal lawmakers that Chinese companies or citizens are trying to buy farmland in the United States, which some lawmakers speculate is for nefarious purposes.
One state lawmaker is hoping to get out ahead of that problem in Indiana. State Sen. Justin Busch authored a bill that passed the Senate last month that would ban the sale of land near military installations to citizens or companies connected to China, Russia, or North Korea.
“There has been a couple of states where we have seen this happen,” Busch told WISH-TV. “In Texas, actually there was a Chinese billionaire and ex-member of the Chinese liberation army that was buying up locations adjacent to military installations.”
Recently there was another high-profile land buy attempt by a Chinese firm near an Air Force base in North Dakota.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, foreign individuals or companies owned more than 455,000 acres in Indiana as of the end of 2021. Canada, the Netherlands, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Germany account for most foreign land holdings in Indiana.
The bill passed with a firm majority in the State Senate with some opposition from Democratic lawmakers like State Sen. Andrea Hunley, who likened the bill to McCarthyism.
“We’re talking about Hoosiers who could have lived in Indiana for decades, who could have reputable companies and organizations,” she said. “They could now be prohibited or questioned about their ability to provide services as contractors because of the color of their skin or national origin, and that worries me.”
Busch said that the bill allows for the governor’s Homeland Security Council to handle each attempted purchase of land on a case-by-case basis.
The bill passed a House committee unanimously with bipartisan support on Monday. The committee did make some tweaks to the bill, which means that once the bill passes the full House it will have to go back to the Senate and be voted on again.
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