As tensions between the United States and China increase amid a suspected Chinese spy balloon shot down last week, Mississippi lawmakers are working to shield the state’s farmland from being controlled by hostile foreign nations.
Rep. Becky Currie, R-Brookhaven, introduced House Bill 280 which was originally intended to completely prohibit foreign investors from purchasing farmland in Mississippi. However, a recent amendment has proposed that a committee study the matter prior to implementing a strict law.
The move from Currie comes after it was revealed that China has purchased approximately 192,000 acres across America.
“Communist China is here. It’s in Mississippi,” Currie said on The Gallo Show. “One of the largest chicken companies and one of the largest grain companies have now been owned by communist China. That information will be coming out. We have a mess on our hands.”
Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson has also warned against China gaining influence over agriculture, especially food production. Gipson recently claimed China was responsible for a bacon shortage in 2020 when the world’s largest pork manufacturer suspended production.
“A few years ago, China bought up Smithfield Farms, which is the nation’s largest pork producer. During COVID, for example, they just slaughtered off all kinds of herds of swine,” Gipson said. “That’s why you had the bacon shortage and the pork roast shortages.”
According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency, roughly 747,267 acres, or 6.67 percent, of Mississippi’s land is owned by foreign entities, but primarily European ones:
- Netherlands – 357,622 acres
- Germany – 60,352 acres
- United Kingdom – 57,800 acres
- Canada – 9,885 acres
- Italy – 5,495 acres
- All others (unspecified) – 256,114 acres
Of Mississippi’s 82 counties, Leake County has the most land operated by a foreign entity. The Netherlands controls all 73,430 acres of land owned by a non-U.S. investor in the county.
HB 280 passed the House of Representatives with an overwhelming 114-3 vote and now waits to be referred in the Senate.