How Threatening are Communist Farmers?
In his State of the Commonwealth speech on January 11, Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin stated:
In addition, Virginians – not the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] – should own the rich and vibrant agricultural lands God has blessed us with.
That is why I am asking the General Assembly to send me a bill to prohibit dangerous foreign entities tied to the CCP from purchasing Virginia farmland.
The stakes are too high and the consequences are too great.
Friends, that is just common sense.
I hope throughout our time here, that as we reach moments of impasse… whether on who should own Virginia farmland, how to protect the privacy of our children online, or whether Virginia law should be written in Virginia or California… we will find the courage and the confidence to choose commonsense.
His “Virginians” point in the first sentence is just an empty rhetorical flourish; he has no intention of prohibiting people from Maryland or Georgia or California from owning farmland in Virginia. As he makes clear, he wants to ban “entities tied to the CCP” from purchasing Virginia farmland.
Why? What are the stakes? What are the potential consequences? Youngkin doesn’t say; he says that it’s common sense.
But, as Charley Hooper and I say in our book, Making Great Decisions in Business and Life, common sense “is not all that common.” I think this is an instance.
What is he afraid that entities tied to the CCP would do if they own farmland? Would they take it out of production? That would hurt consumers, but it would also hurt the owners of the suddenly unproductive land. Would they make the farmland even more productive? That would help consumers. It would also hurt competing farmers, but that shouldn’t be a concern of someone who, at least occasionally, makes noises in favor of free markets.
Land, moreover, is going nowhere, literally. So whatever entities tied to the CCP might do, the land is an incredibly good hostage that gives the U.S. government leverage in dealing with the CCP. I’m not advocating that the U.S. government use that leverage. My point is simply that politicians who are that negative on CCP influence should realize that they have that leverage.
The picture above is of Virginia farmland.