In the Spotlight
October 19, 2023 – 9:49 a
From Slay News
Arkansas’ newly enforced ban on foreign entities buying up land in the state has forced a Chinese company to sell farmland.
A Chinese-owned seed producer has been given a deadline of two years to sell its 160 acres of Arkansas farmland.
The law that will likely see the land returned to American ownership is part of the state’s Act 636, which recently went into effect.
Under the bill, signed into law by Republican Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, bans prohibited foreign parties from holding land in the state.
China is considered a prohibited party.
Chinese-owned Syngenta, the parent company of Northrop King Seed Co., is the first to be targeted by the new law.
Syngenta is now legally required to divest its acres of farmland in Craighead County.
While Northrop King Seed Co. has owned the land for over 30 years, the company was acquired by China National Chemical Corp. in 2017.
During a Tuesday news conference, Gov. Sanders stated, “Seeds are technology.”
She explained that bad actors could use knowledge about America’s farming practices to their advantage, the Post reported.
“Chinese-owned state corporations filter that technology back to their homeland, stealing American research and telling our enemies to target American farms,” Sanders noted.
“This is a clear threat to our national security and to our farmers.”
Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin also spoke during the news conference.
“The idea that the Chinese government would care about non-military assets is exactly what they’ve demonstrated over the last few decades,” Griffin said.
According to Griffin, Syngenta had missed a deadline to report its foreign ties in June.
As a result, the seed producer will be fined the maximum penalty of $280,000.
If the company does not pay the fine within 30 days, the state could remove its ownership of the farmland, Griffin explained.
According to Saswato Das, a Syngenta spokesperson, the land in Arkansas is “primarily used for research and project development for the US market.”
He added that the Craighead County employees are Americans “who care deeply about serving Arkansas farmers.”
Das noted that U.S. federal officials have conducted reviews of the company, and Chinese leaders have never dictated its actions.
“The order for Syngenta to divest itself of 160 acres of agricultural land in Craighead County, which the company has owned since 1988, is a shortsighted action that fails to account for the effects of such an action — intended or not, on the US agricultural market,” he stated.
“Syngenta’s work in the US — including in Arkansas — continues to benefit American farmers, strengthens American agriculture, and makes the US a more innovative and competitive participant in the global agricultural marketplace.”