Atlanta

State agriculture commissioner working to keep hostile countries from buying GA farmland

ATLANTA — Georgia’s Commissioner of Agriculture wants to make it illegal for investors from China and some other countries from buying Georgia farms.

Whether it’s a Georgia peach, pecan, or peanut, you may not have thought much about who it is that owns the farm where the state’s iconic crops are grown.

But Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper told Channel 2 consumer investigator Justin Gray that wants Georgians to know that countries like China are moving in.

“China itself owns about 400,000 acres of farmland across the U.S. and that’s a 500% increase just in the last 10 or 12 years,” Harper said.

Harper is pushing the state legislature this session to pass a new law that would ban hostile nations from buying Georgia farmland.

His office is working with lawmakers to refine the language of House Bill 452.

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“When you control the food supply, when you control that food sector, you can control the price of it,” Harper said.

Federal law requires foreign owners of U.S. farmland to file annually with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Channel 2 Action News checked the most recent data publicly available.

Through 2022, it shows Chinese investors owning nearly 2,000 acres of Georgia farmland in Clayton, Henry, Jackson, and Newton counties.

“So, it is already happening in Georgia,” Harper said.

More than 20 states have passed similar legislation not only in red states Like Arkansas and Alabama but also in blue states like Oregon and Pennsylvania.

“The less operational control we have of our ability to produce our own food and fiber here at home it makes us more vulnerable as a nation,” Harper said.

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