RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The General Assembly voted to ban foreign adversaries such as China and Iran from buying farmland in Virginia.
Both chambers of the assembly, the Republican-controlled House of Delegates and Democrat-led Virginia Senate, passed a bill from Republican state Sen. Richard Stuart (King George) to prohibit foreign governments from making agricultural land purchases.
The votes were bipartisan, with the House passing the legislation Monday on a 67-30 vote a week after the Senate advanced it on a 23-16 vote. A similar bill carried by Del. Robert S. Bloxom Jr. (R-Accomack) passed the Virginia House and is being considered in the state Senate.
Sen. Stuart’s bill now heads to Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), who is expected to sign it into law after calling for the commonwealth to ban foreign entities with ties to the Chinese Community Party from buying farmland during his annual State of the Commonwealth address.
“The governor has been clear since day one that Virginians, their tax dollars, and their farmland should not enrich the CCP or dangerous foreign entities at the expense of national security,” Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter said in a statement.
Under the bill, the ban would apply to foreign governments or others the U.S. Secretary of Commerce has determined “to have engaged in a long-term pattern or serious instances of conduct significantly adverse to the national security of the United States or security and safety of United States persons.”
The bill would impose the ban starting Jan. 1, 2023, meaning it would go into effect once it is signed, but it would not void farmland purchases made before 2023.
The legislation also requires the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to provide a yearly report to the governor and General Assembly on the farmland owned by foreign governments.
The current list of “foreign adversaries” recognized by the U.S. includes The People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Cuba, the Islamic Republic of Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuelan politician Nicolás Maduro.
In 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture found foreign entities and persons held an interest in nearly 41 million acres of the country’s agricultural land — 3.1% of total privately owned land.
According to the department’s 2021 data, most of this land was owned by Canada, the Netherlands, Italy, the United Kingdom and Germany. The department found that China held just under 1% of the foreign-owned U.S. farmland at the end of 2021.