On Saturday, March 9, 2024, President Biden signed a six-bill appropriations package to fund the U.S. government through September 30, 2024.  In doing so, he codified a notable trade-related policy rider that adds the Secretary of Agriculture “on a case by case basis” to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS” or the “Committee”) to review certain foreign investments “involving agricultural land, agriculture biotechnology, or the agriculture industry (including agricultural transportation, agricultural storage, and agricultural processing)” to ensure such transactions do not compromise national security interests. The inclusion of the Secretary of Agriculture to CFIUS thus maintains the Committee’s composition of nine voting members from various federal departments and offices. Going forward, the Secretary of Agriculture will participate in a manner similar to leaders of a handful of White House offices who observe and, when appropriate, take part in CFIUS activities. 

The addition of the Secretary of Agriculture to CFIUS follows increasing bipartisan calls from Congress to expand the Committee’s composition and jurisdiction over concerns about foreign adversaries investing in U.S. real estate near military or sensitive government facilities, especially vis-à-vis foreign investment in U.S. agricultural lands. The Fufeng Incident of 2022 exemplifies Congress’ concern on this matter; in December 2022, CFIUS concluded it lacked the requisite jurisdiction to block a purchase of approximately 370 acres of land in North Dakota by a U.S. subsidiary of the Chinese company, Fufeng Group, even though the real estate is approximately 12 miles from the Grand Forks Air Force Base—a sophisticated Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance base. For greater detail and analysis of the Fufeng Incident of 2022, see Client Bulletin of December 21, 2022 and Update of May 8, 2023.

CFIUS is an interagency committee authorized to review certain transactions involving foreign investment in the United States and certain real estate transactions by foreign persons, in order to determine the effect of such transactions on the national security of the United States. For more details on CFIUS’ functions see Thompson Hine’s CFIUS/National Security Practice.