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Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

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Judicial Watch Sues Treasury Dept. for Records on Foreign Purchases of U.S. Farmland

(Washington, DC)Judicial Watch announced today it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Treasury for records of communication between the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding the purchase of U.S. farmland by foreign entities (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of the Treasury (No. 1:24-cv-01811)).

Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the Treasury Department failed to respond to an April 10, 2024, FOIA request for:

Any and all records of communications between the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture concerning, regarding, or relating to the purchase of U.S. agricultural real estate by foreign entities.  

On January 19, 2024, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report which found significant gaps in information collection and timely information sharing between the Committee on Foreign Investment and other government agencies, including the USDA, concerning foreign investment in U.S. agricultural land.

The GAO report concludes:  

Recent national security risks related to foreign investments in U.S. agricultural land have highlighted the importance of CFIUS’s reviews. CFIUS is the main authority to address the national security ramifications of foreign investment in the United States, according to Treasury and DOD officials. However, we found that CFIUS does not currently have regular and timely access to detailed AFIDA [Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act] information, the nation’s most comprehensive data on foreign investments in U.S. agricultural land, according to USDA officials.

For example, according to a Fox News report, in February 2023, the city council in Grand Forks, North Dakota, voted unanimously to strike down Chinese-owned food manufacturer Fufeng Group’s proposed corn mill on 300 acres of farmland it purchased which is 12 miles from the U.S. Air Force’s Grand Forks base.

In a January 2023 letter to North Dakota’s U.S. senators, Air Force Assistant Secretary Andrew Hunter pointed to the proposed corn mill’s proximity to Grand Forks Air Force Base as a major risk:

Thank you for meeting with Department of the Air Force representatives last month regarding the Fufeng Group’s proposal to build a large com milling processing plant approximately 12 miles from Grand Forks Air Force Base. Based on the briefings provided, you asked for the Department’s view of the national security implications of the Fufeng Group Limited’s proposed activity.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) considered an October 2022 filing by the Fufeng Group to acquire certain assets in the vicinity of Grand Forks, North Dakota. Grand Forks Air Force Base is the center of military activities related to both air and space operations.

While CFIUS concluded that it did not have jurisdiction, the Department’s view is unambiguous: the proposed project presents a significant threat to national security with both near- and long-term risks of significant impacts to our operations in the area. 

“Chinese and other foreign purchases of U.S. farmland could pose a significant threat to U.S. national security. That the Biden administration is hiding records about this concerning issue is not reassuring,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

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