North Carolina Joins Fight Against Chinese Land Ownership

North Carolina lawmakers have enlisted in the fight against Chinese entities scooping up massive parcels of U.S. land — particularly near sensitive military bases.

Showing the concern reaches across the political aisle, the state House unanimously approved legislation to prevent the ownership of land intended for agriculture or near government installations.

The North Carolina Farmland and Military Protection Act would bar purchasers which are more than half controlled by China, Cuba, North Korea, Russia, or Venezuela from buying or leasing land within 25 miles of a military facility.

It entirely blocks the purchase or lease of agricultural land.

The Department of Agriculture reported that North Carolina currently has 518,000 acres of farmland controlled by foreign entities. The agency said that total grew by almost 11,000 acres from 2019 to 2020.

The new act declared the state has a vested interest in protecting farmland from adversarial nations. Proponents say it is a move to guarantee a “safe, abundant, and affordable supply of food” for local residents as well as the country.

State Rep. Jennifer Balkcom (R) is the primary sponsor of the measure. She noted that growing up “on a family farm, preserving North Carolina’s farmland is a top priority.”

She added that it is important for lawmakers to exercise common sense and protect the state’s agricultural assets “from foreign governments that do not have America’s best interests in mind.”

Allies account for the vast majority of foreign-held property within the U.S., and Chinese entities own less than 1% of that acreage.

For example, Canadian investors own about 32% of agricultural and non-agricultural land possessed by foreigners. Other allies such as the Netherlands and the U.K. hold roughly 31% of that total. Still, it is increasingly a cause for concern among state legislators.

South Dakota lawmakers expressed their worries over Chinese firms acquiring land near Ellsworth Air Force Base. Meanwhile, Chinese food giant Fufeng Group acquired property in 2022 in proximity to Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota.

That is the site of the development of much of the U.S.’ drone technology.

North Carolina’s move came as tensions rose between the U.S. and China. The state was also the final destination for the infamous Chinese spy balloon that crossed the country before being shot down off the Atlantic coast earlier this year.