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House leadership — and Balkcom — sponsor bill barring adversaries from buying farmland

Jennifer Balkcom Jennifer Balkcom

Freshman Rep. Jennifer Balkcom of Hendersonville is a primary sponsor of a high-profile bill filed in the General Assembly this week to prohibit China, Russia, Iran and other foreign adversaries and state-controlled entities from buying farmland, including property surrounding military bases.

Today, state House Majority Leader John Bell, R-Wayne, filed the N.C. Farmland and Military Protection Act, House Bill 463 on Thursday. Other primary sponsors include Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, Rep. Jeff Zenger, R-Forsyth, and Minority Leader Robert Reives, D-Chatham.

“Allowing foreign adversaries to purchase farmland is a legitimate concern in rural North Carolina and poses a serious risk to our national and food security,” Bell said in a news release. “By putting a halt to these land grabs, this bill will protect our state’s most precious natural resources while further safeguarding our military instillations. It is critical that we act now to mitigate this unnecessary threat to our state and nation.”

The legislation, which has the support of the N.C. Farm Bureau, if enacted becomes effective on Jan. 1, 2024, and applies only to land acquired on and after that date. There's little doubt that it will pass, given that the House speaker and majority leader are sponsors.

“I am so proud to sponsor this legislation for North Carolina,” Balkcom said. “North Carolina should take every action we can to secure our farmland and maintain our agricultural production for future generations. Protecting our military assets is fundamentally a security necessity for North Carolinians and Americans.”

The bill defines state-controlled entities are ones in which a foreign government has a controlling interest, the North Carolina Tribune reported.

"We believe it's important that we protect vital infrastructure like our military establishments and other sensitive locations," Moore said. "We need to really make sure that if we have a state-owned entity, like of course China — the Chinese Communist Party owns it all — that we really restrict when they can own land in this state, because they have shown hostility to our way of life and to our nation. Same with Russia."