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Proposed Indiana law prohibits US adversaries from buying farmland

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Joe Ulery

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(Indiana News Service) Legislation aimed at stopping U.S. adversaries from owning farmland in Indiana was argued before the full state Senate last week.

Rep. Kendell Culp, R-Rensselaer, authored House Bill 1183. If approved, it would bar citizens and companies from China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela from buying or leasing agricultural land in the state, any property located within 10 miles of military armories or within 50 miles of military bases.

"If we lose even a fraction of our food production this quickly would become a national security issue," Culp asserted. "Chinese interests, for example, own about 400,000 acres in the U.S. In Indiana, 2.2% of Indiana's farmland is owned by foreign entities."

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Culp noted Indiana's Attorney General would be tasked with enforcing the law. Opponents argued the bill goes too far and punishes Hoosiers who fled one of the six targeted countries to legally become U.S. citizens.

Chris Daley, executive director of the ACLU of Indiana, asked state lawmakers to step back and ask whether the proposed legislation represents Hoosier values.

"You are telling them they are no longer welcome here except for as employees of someone else," Daley contended. "The attorney general's representative was very helpful and making very clear this isn't just about ownership; it's about leasing. This bill is far too broad for the goal that you have stated."

However, proponents of the bill say the issue goes beyond food security.

Brian Cavenaugh, senior vice president of the national security consulting firm American Global Strategies, warned the Senate Ag Committee our adversaries are strategic and do their homework.

"The one that keeps me up at night is the People's Republic of China," Cavenaugh explained. "Many national security experts, including myself, believe that China represents the greatest threat to our national security in this generation. What they're doing is prepositioning stuff in a way to cripple our economy, cripple the society."