Chinese-owned Craighead County seed company told to sell assets releases statement
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday a Craighead County seed company has two years to sell its assets or the state will assume control.
During a news conference in Little Rock, the governor said Syngenta Seeds, 778 County Road 680 in Bay, was in violation of Acts 636 and 758, which she signed earlier this year.
The land, in question, is owned by Northrup King Seed Co., which is a subsidiary of Syngenta Seeds, which is owned by China National Chemical Company (ChemChina), a state-owned enterprise.
“No one from China has ever directed any Syngenta executive to buy, lease, or otherwise engage in land acquisition in the United States,” Syngenta said in a statement.
Act 758 bans government contracts with the Chinese Communist Party, while Act 636 “prohibits certain foreign parties from acquiring any interest in Arkansas agricultural land.”
The law also does not allow a prohibited foreign party (PFP) controlled businesses to acquire any real estate within the state.
Attorney General Tim Griffin said he has sent a letter to the company ordering it to “divest its ownership of approximately 160 acres of land in Craighead County.”
Griffin also imposed a civil penalty of $280,000 for failing to report its foreign ownership in a timely manner.
“I am ordering ChemChina, as a ‘prohibited foreign-party-controlled business,’ to divest this land within two years, or I will commence an enforcement action in Craighead County circuit court,” Griffin said.
On Tuesday, Oct. 17, Syngenta released the following statement in response to the announcement by Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin ordering the divestment of 160 acres of agricultural land by Syngenta Group:
“Syngenta is disappointed by today’s announcement by the State of Arkansas about a bill that was passed in April. Nothing new was announced today. The order for Syngenta to divest itself of 160 acres of agricultural land in Craighead County, which the company has owned since 1988, is a shortsighted action that fails to account for the effects of such an action, intended or not, on the U.S. agricultural market.
“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.
“No one from China has ever directed any Syngenta executive to buy, lease, or otherwise engage in land acquisition in the United States.
“Syngenta owns approximately 1,500 acres of agricultural land in the U.S., about the size of four average Iowa farms. Syngenta’s agricultural land, including the 160 acres in Craighead County, is used for research, development, regulatory trials, and production to meet the needs of American farmers and to drive competition and innovation within the U.S. agricultural market. In fact, in many instances, Syngenta is required by law to develop and test products it sells in the U.S. domestically on U.S. soil.
“All Syngenta land holdings have been examined by the U.S. government, through two administrations, as Syngenta was transitioning to ChemChina ownership. Since Syngenta has had Chinese ownership, the company has purchased only an additional 200 agricultural acres.
“Syngenta continues to adhere to all government laws, regulations, and reviews for any land additions to the Syngenta portfolio.
“Syngenta has a longstanding and close working relationship with the U.S. government and has always emphasized transparency with all relevant agencies to ensure timely compliance with all laws and regulations.
“Following an internal review, Syngenta updated its AFIDA filing, reflecting the change in its ultimate ownership, and filed a copy with the State of Arkansas.
“Our site has been in existence for 35 years and our people there have faithfully served American farmers all that time. We intend to do all we can to help enable these Americans to continue serving American farmers.
“Syngenta’s work in the U.S. – including in Arkansas – continues to benefit American farmers, strengthens American agriculture, and makes the U.S. a more innovative and competitive participant in the global agricultural marketplace.”
Senator Blake Johnson (R) played a significant role in passing Acts 636 and 758. He said he comes from an area surrounded by farmland, so he felt passionate about the governor’s announcement.
“We don’t need to allow our enemies to control the land that we feed and clothe ourselves and build the future,” Johnson said.
He said protecting Arkansas farmland from foreigners is his top priority.
“As long as you’re not our enemy we don’t care,” the Senator said.
Copyright 2023 KAIT. All rights reserved.