Oct 19, 2023
Arkansas orders Syngenta to sell farmland owned in the state

Arkansas has ordered global seeds producer Syngenta to sell 160 acres of farmland it owns in the state within two years because the company is Chinese-owned.

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin issued a statement Oct. 17 ordering Syngenta to divest its ownership of land in Craighead County and imposing a civil penalty of $280,000 for failure to timely report foreign ownership. The Swiss agrichemicals and seeds group was bought for $43 billion by ChemChina in 2017 and folded into Sinochem Holdings Corp in 2021.

U.S. farm groups and lawmakers are increasingly scrutinizing foreign land ownership amid concerns about national security and rising farmland prices.

“This is the first enforcement action I have taken under the authority granted under Act 636 of 2023 by the General Assembly to ban prohibited foreign entities from owning Arkansas agricultural lands,” Griffin said in the statement. “The land in question is owned by Northrup King Seed Co., a subsidiary of Syngenta Seeds LLC, which is ultimately owned by China National Chemical Co. (ChemChina), a state-owned enterprise.”

Syngenta called the decision “a shortsighted action” that will hurt Arkansas farmers, according to reports from multiple media outlets including Reuters, CNN and Farm Progress. The company owns about 1,500 acres of U.S. agricultural land for research, development and regulatory trials on products used by U.S. farmers, spokesman Saswato Das said.

Das said Syngenta has owned the Craighead County site for 35 years.

The Arkansas law, passed this year, prohibits certain foreign parties from acquiring or holding land. China is among the prohibited parties because it is subject to U.S. arms export controls known as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, Griffin said.

Foreign persons held an interest in approximately 40 million acres of U.S. agricultural land as of Dec. 31, 2021, according to the USDA. That represented 3.1% of all privately held agricultural land and 1.8% of all land. China owned less than 1% of foreign-held land, while Canadian investors owned 31%.

Griffin said he will commence legal action in Craighead County circuit court if Syngenta does not comply with the order.






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