Georgia Legislators Expected to Address Foreign Ownership Land Topic

Clint Thompson Georgia

Photo by Clint Thompson/Shows a group of panelists, including Will Bentley (with microphone), speaking during the UGA Ag Forecast meeting.

By Clint Thompson

Foreign ownership of agricultural land is a controversial topic that some states have already tackled. Expect Georgia to be the next.

A discussion was held during the University of Georgia Ag Forecast meeting on Jan. 26 in Tifton, Georgia. Attendees addressed panelists, including Will Bentley, president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council, about the concern of an adversarial country like China or Russia staking claim to land in Georgia. Bentley expects that issue to be resolved soon by the state’s legislative leaders.

“You’ll see a bill. There’s a commitment to pass it from both the House and the Senate at the state level to limit that foreign ownership of land, specific to our foreign adversaries; your Chinas, Venezuela, Russia; countries that are ‘enemies’ of the state,” Bentley said. “You’ll see a bill pass at the state level. There’s a commitment from all sides.

“I don’t want to speak for the governor’s office, but I would assume that gets signed pretty quickly. That’s coming at the state level to try to block it and really address all land sales around military bases from these same countries.”

Statistically Speaking

According to a previous story by AgNet Media, Canada owns the most U.S. agricultural land among foreign countries, equating to 3.8 million acres, more than doubling Italy’s 1.6 million acres. China owns 160,717 acres in Texas, 49,253 acres in North Carolina, 13,848 acres in Florida and 1,972 acres in Georgia.

U.S. Representative Austin Scott (GA-R) was part of the same panel discussion and emphasized the reality of China’s intent to monopolize control of the food supply around the world.

“I can tell you that China is no longer an aggressive economic competitor, they’re an adversary. When you look at their ownership of Syngenta seed company, it’s not just the land we need to be careful of, you have to be careful of their ownership of the inputs in our food supply chain,” Scott said. “Don’t underestimate China’s intent to control the food supply in the world.”