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House committee examines threats to U.S. food security from Chinese ownership of land, facilities – ‘Between 2010 & 2020 China increased its holding of U.S. agricultural land by 5,300%…holds 384,000 acres valued at $2 billion’

By Kevin Killough

The House Agriculture Committee took a close look Wednesday at the influence of China on America’s food supply.

The committee also heard testimony concerning Chinese companies activities in the U.S., allegedly stealing intellectual property and purchasing supply chain assets that American farmers depend on to produce crops.

Addressing the problem runs into questions about how to separate legitimate foreign investments from espionage maneuvers, and how to differentiate between spies for the Chinese Communist Party and Chinese immigrants trying to escape the Chinese government’s oppression.

Intellectual property

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem testified that members of the Chinese Communist Party contacted the South Dakota state government last summer to coordinate tours of meat packing plants and farms. The party officials said they wanted to help improve trade relations, but South Dakota declined.

“Within days, we received a phone call from the State Department telling us that those were Chinese spies,” Noem said.

The State Department officials said that the spies were planning to steal intellectual property, such as proprietary seed genetics, and the State Department officials wanted to debrief any South Dakota officials who had met with the spies. “The threat is very real to us every single day,” Noem said.

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., testified as the ranking member of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party. He told the story of a farmer in 2011 near the town of Dicer, Iowa. This farmer saw a man digging in cornfields. Authorities investigated and discovered he was looking for proprietary seeds to send back to his employer, a Chinese seed corn company.

The man, Krishnamoorthi said, tried to ship 250 pounds of corn seeds to Hong Kong disguised in microwave popcorn bags. The company wanted to reverse engineer the seeds to produce the same product in China.

The total cost of the intellectual property theft, Krishnamoorthi said, was estimated to be $30 million.