Senator Lankford Introduces Bill to Prevent Oklahoma Land Purchases by Criminal Organizations

Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford plans next week to introduce a bill — similar to legislation introduced by Rep. Frank Lucas last year — to help stop criminal foreign entities from buying farmland in Oklahoma or elsewhere in the country.

Oklahoma public safety and narcotics officials have said that one of the unintended consequences of medical marijuana legalization is how drug trafficking organizations now operate under Oklahoma’s medical cannabis program. the state.

They said a growing number of international criminal entities are fraudulently obtaining licenses from Oklahoma, which appear legitimate on the face of it, and allowing them to traffic their marijuana to black markets across the United States.

Lankford said the issue exposed a flaw in the system: neither the US Department of Agriculture nor any other entity controls agricultural purchases by foreign operators.

“The state’s ‘legal’ marijuana trade has…predictably attracted transnational criminal organizations to Oklahoma that traffic in drugs and people,” the senator said. Lankford (R-OK) in a statement. “Transnational criminal organizations have partnered with Chinese nationals to buy up land and businesses throughout Oklahoma. It is a national security issue and a human rights issue. We need to know who is buying our land, how they are using it and if there is criminal activity.

Lankford said its Security and Surveillance of International Landholdings (SOIL) Act would deter criminal investment in U.S. agriculture by requiring the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to review property purchases. agricultural real estate by certain foreign entities, prohibiting federal assistance to certain foreigners. -ownership of real estate and expanded disclosure requirements for land purchases made by foreign entities.

Most important, Lankford said, is getting the USDA to sit at the table with CFIUS so it can be part of the farmland purchase review process.

Congressman Lucas (R-OK3) introduced similar legislation — the Farm Safety Risk Review Act — in 2021.

Earlier this summer, Lucas and other Republican lawmakers, noting with concern that “Chinese landholdings alone have grown from 13,720 acres to 352,140 acres between 2010 and 2020,” sent a letter to the Secretary of State. Agriculture Vilsack calling for measures to bring more transparency to these purchases because “our constituents deserve to know as much as possible about the foreign acquisition of domestic farmland, whether or not we are concerned about the motives of the parties involved. »

Lucas and Lankford seem to be on the same page.

“I want to make sure we have national control, just like we do over a technology entity, [but] also for agriculture,” Lankford said in an interview Thursday.

Lankford said it’s not a partisan issue and he’s had good conversations with the Biden administration about it.