The U.S. Senate is considering a bill that would give food and agriculture officials greater oversight of mergers and acquisitions involving U.S. food companies and foreign entities and includes new criteria to determine whether a transaction could result in control of a U.S. business by a foreign company.
The bill would make the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) permanent members of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). The purpose of CFIUS is to assess whether transactions involving foreign entities may impair U.S. national security; the bill adds criteria to the CFIUS review process to ensure that transactions are reviewed specifically for their potential impact on U.S. food and agriculture systems, including the availability of food and its safety and quality.
Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced Senate Bill 616, titled the “Food Security is National Security Act of 2017,” as an amendment to the Defense Production Act of 1950. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.
“As foreign entities continue their aggressive acquisitions of U.S. food and agriculture companies, it’s imperative that these transactions face additional scrutiny,” said Stabenow. “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.”