Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., on Wednesday gave an impassioned argument that the U.S. government should take back Chinese-owned farmland.
The Pennsylvania Democrat spoke during a broader hearing by the Senate Agriculture Committee on foreign ownership in U.S. agriculture and its impact on food security and national security.
“I hope many of our colleagues agree, the Chinese government and other U.S. adversaries should own zero, zero agricultural land in our country, I believe that,” Fetterman said. “They’re taking back our pandas.! We should take back all of their farmland.”
According to Department of Agriculture data, Chinese agricultural investment increased tenfold between 2009 and 2016 alone.
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Fetterman was referring to the expiration of the panda bear loan agreement between most U.S. zoos and the China Wildlife Conservation Association in December. The most famous of the giant pandas, Mei Xiang, Tian Tian and their cub, Xiao Qi Ji, at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., will all be returned to China.
The only pandas remaining in the U.S. after the deadline can be found at the Atlanta Zoo.
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Meanwhile, Republican legislation that would create additional federal safeguards to protect U.S. agriculture land from Chinese buyers overcame its latest hurdle by a substantial margin earlier this week, putting it on track for a full floor vote.
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The vote on the Agricultural Security Risk Review Act, which received support from Chairman Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., and ranking member Maxine Waters, D-Calif., sets up a full floor vote in the coming weeks.
Fox News’ Thomas Catenacci contributed to this report.