Skip to content

Ranking Member Boozman Opening Statement at Hearing to Consider on Foreign Ownership in U.S. Agriculture

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, released the following opening remarks, as prepared, at the hearing on foreign ownership in U.S. agriculture.

Thank you, Madam Chair, and thank you for convening this hearing.

We’ve traveled the country, we’ve held hearings in Washington, listening to farmers and ranchers discuss their priorities for the upcoming farm bill, this topic has been brought to the committee’s attention on numerous occasions. I have been asked many times for my thoughts on this matter and my answer has always been that we need to better understand the problem before we can provide a solution. Today’s hearing is a good first step in bringing more information to the discussion. My hope is that at the end of today’s hearing we will have a clearer picture of the scope and scale of the issues foreign ownership of US farmland poses to our country. So, thank you Madam Chair for working with us to get this hearing scheduled.

Many of our Senate colleagues, on and off the committee, have given considerable thought to the issues of foreign land ownership. We will have the opportunity to hear from many of them this morning and I look forward to hearing about what their states are experiencing and how they believe we should address their concerns.

As we move this discussion forward and consider various proposals, there are several considerations and questions that I would urge my colleagues to keep in mind. First, whatever we do, we must respect and protect the private property rights of U.S. citizens. Second, land use issues have historically been decided at the state and local levels. Are state laws sufficient to address the issues posed by foreign ownership? Does the federal government need to play a larger role? If the federal government does get more deeply involved, what are the impacts of increased regulation on asset values and liquidity that may hinder investment in agriculture and rural America?

Finally, let's not forget that there are other parties, aside from foreign operators, that have made significant investments to acquire America’s farmland, pastureland and forests that are not the subject of this hearing. Yet, these purchases also impact farmers and ranchers ability to compete for land access, and they impact our nation's food and energy security. There is more work to be done and I look forward to future efforts by this committee to explore the overall ownership of U.S. agricultural land and how it affects rural economies across the country. 

In conclusion, I would like to join Senator Stabenow in welcoming four guests to the agriculture committee. Like several members on this committee, our esteemed colleagues Senators Tester, Rounds, Baldwin and Lankford have each introduced thoughtful legislative proposals, and I am grateful for their engagement. I look forward to working with each of you as we move forward.

Thanks again, Madam Chair, for working to make this possible. I look forward to today’s discussion.