(CNSNews.com) – “Chinese criminal organizations have moved into my state in mass numbers,” Sen. Lankford said Tuesday in a speech on the Senate floor.
“The year after marijuana was legalized in my state for medical purposes (2018), we had more land sales to foreign entities in Oklahoma than any other state in America, as Chinese criminal organizations and Mexican cartels immediately moved in to be able to set up shop in (marijuana) distribution nationwide.
“Many people said, ‘I didn’t think it was legal for foreign entities to be able to own land in the United States.’ Well, there’s a gap actually in our law, and it’s an issue that I want us to be able to deal with on how we’re going to challenge this issue,” Lankford said.
Lankford has introduced a bill that would provide oversight and transparency of U.S. farmland purchases that threaten national security. He also wants to end federal subsidies for farmland held by certain foreign entities.
Lankford noted that ten years ago, 321,000 acres of agricultural land in Oklahoma was owned by foreign entities. “Today, it’s 1.67 million acres in my state are owned by foreign entities,” and that includes China.
“It’s not just a problem in the marijuana industry; it’s a problem nationally,” he said:
“It’s a problem dealing, quite frankly, with our national security. We currently have a one-mile buffer around all of our military installations that you can’t own land if you’re a foreign entity within one mile around our military installations.
“We now believe that’s not near enough, and quite frankly, foreign nationals from many countries like China buying up the land around our critical infrastructure, around our telecom infrastructure, around military bases, around government offices.
“They’re not buying it because they’re looking for another place to invest. They’re buying it to set up shop for their own operations and their own spying and their own control of our economy.
“We should pay attention to this.”
Lankford is calling for a mandatory review of land purchases by foreign entities, such as China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea: “So they could actually do that kind of purchase, but we just want to know why, where, how much, what’s the purpose of this, and we can ask those practical questions of it.”
The SOIL Act introduced last year by Lankford would close “all the disclosure loopholes,” he said.
“Right now, if you have a land holding that is around 10 acres, then you don’t have to disclose it. Well a lot of these operations are less than 10 acres, and there’s a lot that you can do on 10 acres, if that 10 acres also happens to be right on our critical infrastructure, right in our telecom, or maybe that’s also doing a criminal operation.
“Also this deals with issues of long-term leases. Entities would come in, foreign entities would come in and say, ‘Well we’re not really buying the land, we’re just doing a 99-year lease.’ Well, that’s the equivalent of actually owning the land, and so it gets around that loophole.”
Lankford said he’s not trying to stop foreign investment in the U.S.:
“But when Iran is buying up a big chunk of land, we should ask the question why they’re doing that. And currently we don’t even have a process to do that. When China’s snapping up land by the hundreds of thousands of acres, we should ask the question why is China buying hundreds of thousands of acres of American land all of a sudden? What is the goal?
“We should ask that question, and currently we don’t have a process to do that, so let’s fix that. The SOIL Act gets on top of that issue.”
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