CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia State Auditor JB McCuskey has introduced legislation to protect West Virginians and their property from a growing threat. Nationals from the People’s Republic of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, and others on the State Department’s Countries of Concern list, will be banned from buying natural resources, farmland, and property, under the Auditor’s new legislation. West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt supports this bill and has joined Auditor McCuskey to encourage lawmakers to pass the legislation.

“As many work to try to build a globalist society, it has never been more important to protect domestic energy production and our domestic food supply chains,” Auditor McCuskey said. “There are no protections in place right now to prevent The Chinese, Russian, or Saudi Arabian governments from purchasing property or mineral interests in West Virginia. These governments have proven themselves to be enemies of American prosperity, thus it is our duty to ensure that they cannot leverage our own assets against us. The legislation I am proposing takes a preemptive step to protect our property and our people.”

As Auditor, McCuskey is also the land commissioner for the state of West Virginia and conducts the property tax sales for real estate and mineral interests.

Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt is working with the Auditor to push for the bill’s passage.

“As we continue to battle supply chain issues, rising energy prices and out of control inflation, we need to be thoroughly aware of who is investing in American owned assets. Agriculture is a prime target by bad foreign actors, and they will do anything to steal, copy or divert resources that benefit their own country. We have grave concerns regarding the future of American farmland and this bill is a step in the right direction in protecting our nation’s interests,” Commissioner Leonhardt said.

U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows Chinese ownership of United States farmland went from $81 million in 2010 to $1.8 billion in 2020, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Senator Ryan Weld of Brooke County and Delegate Steve Westfall of Jackson County are lead sponsors of the bill.

Additionally, the bill would require any business which wants to participate in the tax sale to register with the Secretary of State’s Office and creates a bidder registry for individuals, preventing drug dealers, criminals and those who do not have West Virginia’s interest at heart from bidding.

For more information, contact Kallie.Cart@WVSAO.gov.

The West Virginia Department of Agriculture protects plant, animal and human health through a variety of scientific, regulatory and consumer protection programs. The Commissioner of Agriculture is one of six statewide elected officials who sits on the Board of Public Works.