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Indiana farmers raise national security fears as China buys up over 600 acres, as lawmakers try to ban purchases near military bases amid spying threat

Lawmakers in Indiana are considering a bill to ban certain ownership of farmland by China and other adversaries, following similar steps in dozens of other states.

Earlier this month, the Indiana State House unanimously approved a bill that would ban any citizen of, or entity affiliated with, a “foreign adversary” from purchasing agricultural land in Indiana after July 1.

This week, a Senate committee approved the bill, adding language banning the purchase of any land, other than residential leases, within 50 miles of a military base or 10 miles of an armory or maintenance facility.

It comes after Indiana farmers and others raised concerns that Chinese land ownership in the state could pose a national security threat.

“This may be the most important bill we have in terms of securing the entire state of Indiana,” said Republican Senator Jean Leising, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee. WTHR TV.

China is identified as owning farmland in Indiana, with three separate entities owning a total of 618 acres in three different counties

Indiana lawmakers are considering a bill to ban certain farmland ownership by China and other adversaries (stock photo)

Indiana lawmakers are considering a bill to ban certain farmland ownership by China and other adversaries (stock photo)

Indiana’s bill does not ban specific countries but points to the U.S. Commerce Department’s list of adversaries, which currently includes China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and Cuba.

Of those, only China is identified as owning farmland in Indiana, with three separate entities owning a total of 618 acres in three different counties, according to WISH TV.

In addition, the company Syngenta, a subsidiary of the Chinese company Sinochem Holdings Corporation, leases approximately 170 hectares.

These assets would be covered by the proposed law, which would ban purchases by a foreign adversary after July 1.

At least 24 other U.S. states have passed similar laws restricting certain forms of foreign land ownership.

Federal data shows that Chinese companies and investors own just over 383,934 acres in the U.S. in 2021, making the country the 18th largest foreign investor.

That is far less than the land owned by the main foreign landowners: Canada, the Netherlands, Italy, Britain and Germany.

But China’s status as an adversary and rising tensions between Washington and Beijing have heightened concerns about Chinese land ownership.

“This may be the most important bill we have in terms of securing the entire state of Indiana,” said Republican Senator Jean Leising, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

“This may be the most important bill we have in terms of securing the entire state of Indiana,” said Republican Senator Jean Leising, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Leising, the bill's sponsor in the Senate, said she would support an amendment exempting dual citizens of the U.S. and China from the ban

Leising, the bill’s sponsor in the Senate, said she would support an amendment exempting dual citizens of the U.S. and China from the ban

Brian Cavanaugh, who served as a senior advisor on resilience at the National Security Council during the Trump administration, testified Monday before the Senate Agriculture Committee in Indiana.

“Many national security experts, including myself, believe that China poses the greatest threat to our national security in this generation,” he told the panel.

During the hearing, some lawmakers expressed concern that the law would ensnare Chinese dissidents who had fled the country for a better life in America.

Leising, the bill’s sponsor in the Senate, said she would support an amendment exempting dual citizens of the U.S. and China from the ban.

At least 24 states, including Montana, Virginia, Alabama and Idaho, have passed legislation restricting the ability of Chinese nationals to purchase certain properties.