A directive was issued by the state of Arkansas on Tuesday, requiring a branch of a Chinese-owned corporation to surrender 160 acres (774,400 square yards) of agricultural land.
This action signifies the preliminary enforcement of a sequence of recently passed laws that seek to restrict foreign ownership of agricultural land across the country.
Attorney General Tim Griffin asserts that Northrup King Seed Co. is obligated to vacate its Craighead County property within a period of two years, in accordance with legislation passed by the Republican Congress and supported by Republican Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders earlier this year.
Northrup operates as a subsidiary of Syngenta Seeds, a Chinese state-owned enterprise ChemChina owns as its parent company.
During a press conference held alongside Griffin to formally declare the transfer, Sanders affirmed “We will make sure that every company operating in Arkansas is a friend to Arkansas and good to hard-working Arkansans.”
BREAKING: Arkansas becomes the first state in the nation to force a Chinese state-owned company to give up its American land. pic.twitter.com/tsBV2dwP6N
— Leading Report (@LeadingReport) October 17, 2023
Syngenta has officially expressed its dissent regarding the state’s decision concerning the territory that it has owned since 1988.
As per the official statement of the organization, no occurrences have been reported in which Chinese nationals have given directives to the company’s leadership regarding the acquisition, leasing, or procurement of land.
According to the company’s statement, “Our people in Arkansas are Americans led by Americans who care deeply about serving Arkansas farmers. This action hurts Arkansas farmers more than anyone else.”
An increasing number of states are experiencing concerns regarding the matter of foreign ownership in the agricultural industry.
As of the present year, fourteen states had enacted legislation prohibiting or imposing restrictions on foreign investment and ownership in the private agriculture sector. With regard to the National Agriculture Law Center at the University of Arkansas, the previously mentioned number has increased to include twenty-four states as of the current year. Legislators in roughly seventy-five percent of states have engaged in deliberations concerning legislation concerning the subject matter.
Micah Brown, a staff attorney at the Agricultural Law Center, asserts that the recent enforcement action initiated by the attorney general of Arkansas is the preliminary occurrence of a series of recently enacted laws, a number of which are specifically designed to regulate investments originating from Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and China.
According to Brown, “Historically, states that had a law prior to this year did not enforce it vigorously.”
Should a corporation neglect to adhere to state regulations concerning the commercial transaction of real estate, the state of Arkansas retains the legal power to commence legal proceedings against said corporation in a court of law. Griffin made no mention of the state’s designation of any additional foreign-owned properties that could potentially be subjected to comparable measures in accordance with the recently passed legislation.
In 2021, Syngenta was subject to a $280,000 sanction imposed by state authorities in violation of a legislative enactment mandating the disclosure of foreign ownership.
The penalty must be remitted by the organization within a thirty-day timeframe. Syngenta issued a statement on Tuesday concerning the revision of its filing with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to more precisely reflect the change in ownership. Furthermore, the company has forwarded a copy of the amended filing to the appropriate state regulatory body.
Griffin maintained his steadfast conviction in the organization’s capability to sell the land and satisfy the penalty, declining to divulge any possible correspondence with Syngenta.
As per Brown’s analysis, the proliferation of state legislation that restricts the land ownership rights of specific foreign nationals has emerged as a contentious issue within the political sphere. Brown establishes a connection between this phenomenon and occurrences in which Chinese-affiliated entities have procured land in close proximity to military installations situated in North Dakota and Texas.
The February incident involving a supposedly Chinese surveillance balloon that traversed the United States sparked investigations regarding the imposition of restrictions within particular states.