- Bipartisan congressional leaders have introduced a bill to add phosphate and potash to the Department of the Interior’s list of critical minerals, aiming to boost domestic production and alleviate food security risks.
- Amid growing concerns over foreign ownership of farmland and possible food shortages, elected leaders at state and national levels are pushing to restrict foreign investments and other areas of foreign agricultural disruption.
- Florida is a leading supplier of phosphate and potash, which is used in agriculture fertilizers to help boost crop yields. The war in Ukraine severely disrupted food and fertilizer prices around the world.
A group of bipartisan Congressional leaders introduced a bill on Monday aimed at reshaping U.S. agricultural security and mitigate food security threats. U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL-03), U.S. Rep. Barry Moore (R-AL-02), U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-07), and U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-19) sponsored the bill seeking to place phosphate and potash on the Department of the Interior’s list of critical minerals. Florida is one of the largest supplies of phosphate and potash in the world, and the minerals are critical for use in agriculture fertilizers, without which, there could be food shortages.
The move in Washington D.C. comes amid ongoing geopolitical tensions exacerbated by the war in Ukraine and supply chain disruptions that have inflated fertilizer prices. The legislation, also sponsored in the U.S. Senate by Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), seeks to spur domestic production of these essential minerals and reduce dependency on foreign sources, such as Russia and China.
“Without the necessary inputs to feed, clothe, and fuel our nation, we’re leaving our food and national security up to our adversaries,” said Cammack. Her words underscore a rising national concern: America’s ability to secure its own food supply.
This issue has additional resonance in Florida, a state currently grappling with concerns over foreign ownership of farmland. Amid fears that owner-nations prioritize their food exports over U.S. domestic consumption, state lawmakers and Governor Ron DeSantis are championing restrictions on foreign investors. One proposed bill even seeks to prohibit Chinese entities from acquiring more than 50 acres of agricultural land or holding property near strategic assets. The legislation is currently tied up in a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the bill.
As of 2020, foreign investors owned 37.6 million acres of U.S. agricultural land, accounting for 2.9% of all privately held U.S. agricultural land. Florida’s vast agricultural sector makes it a prime target, with foreign real estate investment in the state reaching $12.3 billion in 2021, including commercial, residential, and agricultural land.
Among these foreign owners is China, with a 192,000-acre stake in U.S. agriculture, and Dubai, whose sovereign wealth fund recently purchased farmland stretching from Georgia into the Florida panhandle. As geopolitical tensions rise, so too does the urgency to address Florida’s position in this international tangle.
Adding to the complexity of the situation is the state’s significant phosphate reserves. As one of the leading exporters of phosphate fertilizers, Florida’s role in global food security is further complicated by trade restrictions with countries like Russia. Ensuring domestic control over these reserves is essential, lawmakers argue.
Georgia, Idaho, and Iowa are considering similar food security and farmland legislation, each aiming to curb foreign investments in agricultural assets and other strategic areas. But as Cammack’s new bill in Congress makes clear, the concern over food security is growing nationwide.
While the path forward is multifaceted, the consensus among these policymakers is clear: Strengthening domestic control over agricultural resources and limiting foreign influence is pivotal to ensuring both food and national security.