Arkansas orders Chinese company’s subsidiary to divest itself of agricultural land

Oct 17, 2023, 1:39 PM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas on Tuesday ordered the subsidiary of a Chinese-owned company to divest itself of 160 acres (774,400 square yards) of agricultural land, the first such action under a wave of new laws across the country restricting foreign ownership of farmland.

Attorney General Tim Griffin said Northrup King Seed Co. has two years to divest the property in Craighead County under legislation passed by the majority-Republican Legislature and signed by GOP Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders earlier this year.

Northrup is a subsidiary of Syngenta Seeds, which is owned by China National Chemical Company, or ChemChina, a Chinese state-owned company.

“We will make sure that every company operating in Arkansas is a friend to Arkansas and good to hard-working Arkansans,” Sanders at a news conference with Griffin to announce the move.

Syngenta said it was disappointed in the state’s decision about its land, which the company has owned since 1988. The company said no one from China has ever directed its executives to buy, lease or otherwise engage in land acquisition.

“Our people in Arkansas are Americans led by Americans who care deeply about serving Arkansas farmers. This action hurts Arkansas farmers more than anyone else,” the company said.

Concern has been growing in many states about foreign ownership of farmland. Prior to this year, 14 states had laws prohibiting or restricting foreign ownership and investments in private farmland. But that ballooned to 24 states this year as lawmakers in nearly three-quarters of states considered legislation on the topic, according to The National Agriculture Law Center at the University of Arkansas.

The enforcement action by Arkansas’ attorney general is the first under the wave of new laws, many of which specifically targeted investments from China, Iran, North Korea and Russia, said Micah Brown, a staff attorney at the agricultural law center.

“Historically, states that had a law before this year, there wasn’t much enforcement,” said Micah Brown, a staff attorney at the agricultural law center.

Under the Arkansas law, if a company doesn’t divest of the land, the state can take action in court. Griffin did not say whether the state has identified other foreign-owned land that would prompt similar action under the new law.

The state also fined Syngenta $280,000 for not reporting its foreign ownership under a 2021 state law, which gives the company 30 days to pay the fine. Syngenta said Tuesday the company updated its filing with the U.S. Department of Agriculture after an internal review reflecting the change in ownership, and has also filed a copy with the state.

Griffin said he had “full confidence” the company would divest itself of the property and pay the fine, but declined to say whether he has had any conversations with Syngenta.

The surge in state laws targeting land ownership by certain foreigners represents a “a political flashpoint” that Brown says stems from some highly publicized cases of Chinese-connected entities purchasing land near military bases in North Dakota and Texas. The trek of a suspected Chinese spy balloon across the U.S. in February also spurred interest in restrictions in some states.


Associated Press Writer David Lieb in Jefferson City, Missouri contributed to this report.

United States News

FILE - The North Dakota Capitol tower rises in the background behind a stone sign, April 19, 2012, ...

Associated Press

AP Decision Notes: What to expect in North Dakota’s GOP caucuses

WASHINGTON (AP) — North Dakota will hold its Republican presidential caucuses on Monday, the last chance for Donald Trump’s rivals for the GOP nomination to slow his momentum heading into Super Tuesday, the biggest day of the primary campaign, when 15 states hold contests. Trump’s main opponent in North Dakota once again will be Nikki […]

11 minutes ago

Associated Press

The Latest | Gaza death toll surges over 30,000 as a strike kills and wounds scores waiting for aid

More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the start of the Israel-Hamas war nearly five months ago, health officials in the territory said as a strike on a crowd of people waiting for aid in Gaza City killed and wounded scores on Thursday. At least 70 people were killed as […]

2 hours ago

FILE - Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo listens during a House Committee on Science, Space, and Tec...

Associated Press

Biden administration to investigate national security risks posed by Chinese-made ‘smart cars’

WASHINGTON (AP) — Citing potential national security risks, the Biden administration says it will investigate Chinese-made “smart cars” that can gather sensitive information about Americans driving them. The probe could lead to new regulations aimed at preventing China from using sophisticated technology in electric cars and other so-called connected vehicles to track drivers and their […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

A shooting in Orlando has left at least 1 person dead and several injured, police say

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — At least one person is dead and several others were injured following a shooting in Orlando, Florida, police say. Orlando Police Department responded about 11 p.m. Wednesday in reference to several shots fired, WFTV reported. Officers found multiple victims, including one who died. Police have not released a possible motive for […]

4 hours ago

FILE - A map of a new proposed community in Solano County, Calif., is displayed during a news confe...

Associated Press

A billionaire-backed campaign for a new California city is off to a bumpy start

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — After two false starts, the billionaires behind a plan to build an eco-friendly city from scratch are behind schedule and off to a bumpy start to put their proposal before California voters this November. Former Goldman Sachs trader Jan Sramek unveiled his closely guarded ballot initiative for the proposed community between […]

6 hours ago

FILE - Nevada Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar speaks before Gov. Joe Lombardo signs an election wo...

Associated Press

Nevada and other swing states need more poll workers. Can lawyers help fill the gap?

RENO, Nev. (AP) — With Nevada counties struggling to find poll workers in a pivotal election year, the top election official in the Western swing state is taking a page from his counterparts elsewhere and is asking the legal community to help fill the gap. Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar wants lawyers who volunteer at […]

6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.


Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Arkansas orders Chinese company’s subsidiary to divest itself of agricultural land