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Opening Statements

Chairman Thompson Delivers Opening Statement During China Hearing

Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, Glenn "GT" Thompson (PA-15), delivered the following opening remarks at today's full committee hearing on the dangers China poses to American agriculture.

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Good morning, and thanks to all for being here for a timely and necessary conversation about the threats China poses to American agriculture. 

The People’s Republic of China, governed by the Chinese Communist Party, has gone out of its way to reduce its reliance on American agriculture, all the while aggressively pursuing tactics that threaten our nation’s ability to feed itself. These threats are multifaceted, strategic, incendiary, and require a coordinated and proactive response. 

These last few years have seen China steal U.S. intellectual property, hack critical cybersecurity and related infrastructure, weaponize agricultural trade, and acquire American farmland at an alarming rate. Each of these disrupt our national security, our rural communities, and our resiliency. 

China has long used its legal and regulatory system to steal intellectual property; we have seen this in everything from semiconductors to seeds. Not to mention the scale and sophistication by which China can manipulate critical infrastructure has exposed vulnerabilities in American technologies. This interference has ranged from data breaches and theft of agricultural research to ramping up disruptions of irrigation and transportation systems. 

In 2022, Chairman Comer and I, with more than 125 of our Republican colleagues, asked the Government Accountability Office to evaluate foreign investment in U.S. farmland, and its impact on national security, trade, and food security. As many of you know, in 2021, the Department of Agriculture estimated that foreign investment in U.S. agricultural land grew to nearly 40 million acres. 

A few months ago, we received the final report, which showed Congress where gaps exist in our reporting framework, and how better, more timely coordination between federal agencies could help increase visibility into potential national security risks related to foreign investment. Congress took a natural first step with the recent passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, where the bill addressed foreign ownership of land by improving the tracking system of it. 

The fact China imports almost as much food as the U.S. exports to the whole world makes this conversation more difficult. In recent years, the U.S. has seen record export values to China for soybeans, corn, beef, chicken meat, tree nuts, and sorghum, all of which are major contributors to our domestic farm economy, underscoring the importance of expanded market access and market diversity elsewhere. 

So, how do we strike the balance of protecting our producers and consumers, and every piece of the agricultural value chain, while keeping pace with China’s needs? How do we reduce our reliance on one country without undermining the necessity of a strong export market? How do we think smartly about policies that mitigate threats while protecting our best assets? 

Today’s witnesses come to the table with lived experience and decades of knowledge on China and these very questions. I welcome each of you and look forward to the discussion.