GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – North Carolina House Representatives discussed a bill aiming to block foreign adversaries from buying farmland and property near military bases in the state.
House Bill 463 would prohibit certain countries from buying farmland. While farmers want to make sure their land is protected, they also want to make decisions about their property for themselves without the government making the call.
“I think it’s very important for people to realize where their food comes from,” said Brandon Garris who is a farmer in Pitt County. “Somebody’s got to grow it and put blood, sweat and tears in it, and that’s the American farmer doing that and local farmers doing that.”
That’s the push for the N.C. Farmland and Military Protection Act.
“It is really to prevent those countries who are deemed to be adversaries of the United States from buying that farmland,” said District 9 (R) House Rep. Timothy Reeder. “It’s to protect the area around our military bases and to make sure that we are secure in our food in the United States.”
Shawn Harding, the president of the North Carolina Farm Bureau, gave his thoughts on the bill.
“I really think it has roots in the pandemic where we saw some grocery store shelves empty and people started thinking about food security, and then they start thinking about where their food comes from,” Harding said.
“So, there’s been this big push to say ‘wait a minute, do we have foreign governments buying farmland?'” said Harding.
One local farmer contributing to keeping food on shelves is Brandon Garris. He helps on his family’s farm in Pitt County that’s been around for more than a century.
“I think it would help you know if the government could look into it and investigate to see if they are a foreign entity and not operating under like a shell company or something like that and you know, kind of let us know,” said Garris.
“But I think it’s up to the farmers and the landowners in the areas to say you know it’s not going to be right for me to sale to this foreign entity once it’s figured out that that is who’s buying it.”
House Bill 463 has support from both sides of the aisle but has only been introduced so far. It will be a while until it’s voted on.