Grassley, Stabenow introduce bill to add ag to CFIUS
March 15, 2017
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., on March 14 introduced a bill to give the Agriculture and Health and Human Services secretaries permanent representation on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which decides whether deals including mergers are in the national interest.
The "Food Security is National Security Act of 2017" will also include new agriculture and food-related criteria for CFIUS to consider when reviewing transactions that could result in control of a U.S. business by a foreign company, they said in a joint news release.
CFIUS is expected to review a bid by Bayer, a German company, to buy Monsanto, the American seed giant.
"As we think about the future and the growing global population, it's important to consider who will control the food supply," Grassley said.
"Today, there may not be a food shortage in the world, only distribution problems that are more the result of politics not logistics. In the decades to come, it may be a different story," he said.
"The approval by CFIUS of the sale of U.S. agricultural assets seem more focused on the present state of the food industry instead of the future supply situation. We owe it to our farmers and Americans who rely on farmers to grow their food to be more strategic. Especially as countries around the world are making moves to ensure adequate supplies," Grassley said.
"Protecting the integrity, safety and resiliency of America's food system is core to our national security," Stabenow said.
"As foreign entities continue their aggressive acquisitions of U.S. food and agriculture companies, it's imperative that these transactions face additional scrutiny," she said. "This bill ensures that the U.S. has the appropriate tools and people in place to safeguard America's food security, food safety, biosecurity, and the highly competitive U.S. farm sector as a whole."
CFIUS is a panel of government officials tasked with reviewing proposed mergers and acquisitions of U.S. companies, including foreign entities seeking to purchase U.S. agricultural and food assets. The job of CFIUS is to assess whether or not transactions initiated by foreign entities threaten to impair U.S. national security interests.
The legislation also adds new criteria to the CFIUS review process to ensure that proposed transactions are reviewed specifically for their potential impact on American food and agricultural systems, including availability of, access to, or safety and quality of food, the senators said.
The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union support the legislation, the senators said.