The Chinese Are Coming?

Photo credit: Va. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Remember when Gov. Glenn Youngkin was warning us about the dangers of the Chinese owning “the rich and vibrant agricultural lands God has blessed us with?”

Even the publisher of Bacon’s Rebellion thought that was far-fetched.

At Youngkin’s urging, the General Assembly passed legislation prohibiting any “foreign adversary” from acquiring “any interest in agricultural land in the Commonwealth.”  The legislation required the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to issue an annual report, beginning July 1, 2023, on the amount of total farmland in the Commonwealth under foreign ownership.

The first report has been issued.  As of 12/30/2021, there were 45 different countries identified as the nationality of the foreign interest in parcels of agricultural land in the Commonwealth. The parcels totaled 254,494 acres, 1.2 percent of the total privately-held agricultural land in the Commonwealth.  The country identified with the most parcels was France.

Companies or individuals from China owned 13,890 acres, 5.5 percent of the total foreign-owned acres.  Of the Chinese holding, 13,389 acres, 96 percent, were farms that were included in the Smithfield Foods acquisition.  The acquisition of those acres in 2013 was the last time any corporation or individual associated with China acquired farmland in the Commonwealth.

It seems that Virginia’s “rich and vibrant agricultural lands” are safe from the Chinese.  Those Canadian solar and timber companies are another matter, however.

Because the requirement for the report is embedded in the Code, this report will take its place alongside many other reports that agencies are required to spend time preparing, only to have them be ignored.