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Johnson says keeping China out of American ag is a national security issue

Congressman Dusty Johnson
U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson meets with representatives of the American Soybean Association and the South Dakota Corn Growers Association.  

The interview posted above is from SDPB's daily public affairs show, In the Moment with Lori Walsh.

South Dakota’s U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson wants to block some foreign interests from buying U.S. agriculture companies. He is co-sponsoring a bill that blacklists China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran.

Foreign investments in American agricultural land have increased an average of 2.2 million acres per year since 2015. That’s according to a report from the National Agriculture Law Center.

Congressman Johnson’s bipartisan legislation seeks to limit foreign influence in the American food system by blocking sales of companies. Johnson says these efforts would work in conjunction with his support of federal restrictions on land sales.

“When it comes to people who announce themselves as enemies of the state, we should not be giving them power over us," Johnson says.

Congressional attempts to block Chinese influence in ag have met criticism from rural private landowners. Some people are also concerned that singling out the Chinese government could encourage anti-Asian hate here at home. Johnson says those criticisms are missing the point.

“I don’t want us to go down the rabbit hole in thinking that this is in some way about hate," says Johnson. "This is anti-hate. The Chinese communist party is motivated by seeking power. They embody hate to a far greater extent than our bill does.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that in South Dakota, the proportion of total foreign held ag land is 0.9%.

Lori Walsh is the host and senior producer of In the Moment.