Iowa Republican unveils legislation to protect rural land from China, other foreign adversaries
FIRST ON FOX: Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, introduced legislation Wednesday that would protect rural land critical for renewable energy production from investors in China and other foreign adversaries.
Feenstra’s Defend America’s Rural Energy (DARE) Act would amend the Defense Production Act of 1950 to prohibit foreign adversaries from purchasing any real estate suitable for renewable energy or renewable fuels production. The lawmaker’s home state of Iowa is a major wind energy producer and the nation’s top producer of biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, according to federal data.
“Domestic energy production is critical to Iowa’s economy and our national security,” Feenstra said in a statement shared with Fox News Digital. “In Iowa alone, our biofuels industry supports roughly 57,000 jobs and generates $7.2 billion toward Iowa’s GDP. But we cannot let our guard down when it comes to defending our rural energy sector and our energy security from foreign influence.”
“Due to recent aggressive behavior, we know that our foreign enemies – especially China – have their sights set on our most vital, yet finite resource in rural America: our farmland,” he continued. “That’s why I am proud to lead the DARE Act to defend our farmers and energy producers from Chinese influence and foreign land grabs.”
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In recent months, Republican lawmakers and local leaders nationwide have increased scrutiny on land purchases by foreign investors. The increasing number of land purchases has sparked concern that foreign companies and investors, particularly those from China, may be establishing a stranglehold of key U.S. food and energy supplies.
Feenstra’s office cited Department of Agriculture data Wednesday that showed Chinese agricultural investment increased tenfold between 2009 and 2016 alone.
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“While President Biden continues his war on American energy production, I will always protect our farmland and biofuels industry so that Iowa can help make America energy independent again with homegrown ethanol and biodiesel,” Feenstra added.
Overall, as Western nations, including the U.S., continue their aggressive push to transition from fossil fuel dependence, the global biofuels industry is projected to grow nearly 30% over the next four years, according to the International Energy Agency. Iowa and other rural U.S. states are poised to play a large role in the industry’s growth.
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Iowa accounts for about 25% of American ethanol production capacity and its ethanol plants are able to produce 4.7 billion gallons per year, or 30 times the state’s annual consumption levels, Energy Information Administration data showed. The state’s biodiesel production is five times the state’s consumption of the energy resource.
In addition, 58% of Iowa’s electricity is generated by wind turbines. That represents the largest share of any state in the U.S. and is a result of its windy conditions.