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Chinese lap up farmland as US grapples with data errors – Times of India

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America is seeing more and more of its most fertile land snapped up by China and other foreign buyers, yet problems with how the US tracks such data means it’s difficult to know just how much, according to a report.
Foreign ownership and investment in property such as farmland, pastures and forests jumped to about 40 million acres in 2021, up 40% from 2016, according to the US department of agriculture (USDA) data.But an analysis conducted by the US Government Accountability Office or GAO- a non-partisan watchdog that reports to Congress – found mistakes in the data, including the largest land holding linked with China being counted twice.
Other issues include the challenge of enforcing a US law that requires foreigners to self-report such purchases, the report said, citing USDA.
Outside ownership of American cropland is drawing attention from Washington as concern rises about possible threats to food supply chains and other national security risks. Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike have called for a crackdown on sales of farmland to China and other countries. “Without improving its internal processes, USDA cannot report reliable information to Congress or the public about where and how much US agricultural land is held by foreign persons,” the report said.
The GAO made six recommendations, including that the USDA share timely data with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, an inter-agency panel led by the treasury department that reviews foreign business deals. Another suggestion calls for USDA to ensure its reporting of agricultural foreign investments under a 1978 federal law is complete.

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