US Senate bill would ban foreign governments from buying farmland

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — California State Senate Bill 1084 would place new restrictions on who can buy farmland in the state.

The goal is to prevent foreign governments from buying California farmland.

Currently, about 2.7% of farmland in the Golden State is owned by people or governments of other countries.

In Fresno County, more than 150,000 acres of farmland is owned by foreign owners.

State Senator Melissa Hurtado of District 14 says it’s concerning.

“Perhaps an adversary who seeks to use our lands and resources and have a real impact on food security, not just for Californians and Americans, but for the whole world,” Senator Hurtado said.

If passed, the bill would prohibit a foreign government from “purchasing, acquiring, leasing, or holding interests in farmland in California.”

Despite the drought and agricultural challenges, experts say central California is still one of the best places in the world to grow crops, which is why foreign investors and owners want a stake.

“It’s very likely that every American will eat something from our backyard on a daily basis. And when I say our backyard, let it be Fresno County — every American takes a bite out of our area,” said Ryan Jacobsen, CEO of the Fresno County Agricultural Bureau.

No word yet on when SB 1084 will be up for a vote in the state Senate.

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Norman D. Briggs