Senator Hurtado Commends the U.S. Department of Agriculture for Proposed Revisions to its Foreign Ownership of U.S. Agriculture Lands Reporting Requirements

BAKERSFIELD, CA – Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Bakersfield) commends the United States Department of Agriculture for considering revisions to its foreign land reporting form with the aim of capturing more information on long-term leases and the impacts of foreign ownership on farmers.

“Agricultural land acquisitions by foreign actors’ require increased transparency and that is why I have attempted to address this issue through multiple pieces of legislation as well as a recent California Senate Agriculture Committee oversight hearing. California’s agriculture leadership, its contributions to our national and global economy, and our national food security are reasons why it is vitally important that we have accurate data and transparency in ownership to ensure we preserve the lands essential for our food production,” said Senator Melissa Hurtado. “Earlier this year, we witnessed first-hand how an investment group strategically obscuring its ownership and intentions, eventually resorted to litigation against farmers and undercut the public’s right to weigh in on the preservation of agriculture lands. Had the investors been preemptively required to provide honest information about their intentions on their land holdings forms, local agencies and the public could have made their position a part of the process, instead of an afterthought by investors who seek to override local zoning laws meant to preserve agriculture lands.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is requesting public input – due by Feb. 16, 2024 – on how foreign filers report agricultural land holdings in the United States. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is proposing to update the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act Report form so that reporting can include data on long-term lessees, data to assess the impacts of foreign investment on agricultural producers and rural communities, and to gather geospatial information.

In 2023, Hurtado introduced Senate Bill 224, the Food and Farm Security Act, which would have put California in control of its food supply chain by preventing foreign governments, not individual persons, from purchasing agricultural land, and required an annual report on foreign ownership of California’s resources. The bill died in the Senate Appropriations Committee, with Hurtado vowing to continue working on sensible policies that promote the preservation of California’s monumental role in both American and global food supply chains.

Senator Melissa Hurtado is Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and currently represents the 16th Senate District in the California Legislature, which includes portions of Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Kern Counties.