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AG Griffin looks to broaden law on foreign land ownership restrictions

The Arkansas Rice Federation pledges thousands of pounds of Rice to The Arkansas Food Bank.
University Of Arkansas Division Of Agriculture
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University Of Arkansas Division Of Agriculture
In October, Attorney General Tim Griffin and Gov. Sarah Sanders, both Republicans, announced that Syngenta, a company owned by the Chinese government, will be forced to sell 160 acres of agricultural land it owns in Craighead County. Griffin said this was done for national security reasons.

Attorney General Tim Griffin says he’s eyeing an extension of a new state law that prohibits certain foreign ownership of Arkansas land and property.

Two weeks ago, Griffin and Gov. Sarah Sanders announced that Syngenta, a company owned by the Chinese government, will be forced to sell 160 acres of agricultural land it owns in Craighead County. The legal ability to call for the divestment is part of a new law passed in the last legislative session, Act 636, which bans entities from several countries including China, from owning agricultural land in the state.

Appearing on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics and Capitol View, Griffin said he is looking at broadening that state law to consider other instances of foreign ownership that could be threatening to domestic interests.

“You can have foreign ownership, but there are certain countries that can’t. Here’s the bottom line. China’s not our friend. They are a trading partner and we are going to do business with them and that’s fine, but they’re not our friend. We need to always understand that they are much better than we are at playing the long game,” he said.

“I’m going to work with the legislature on this. The laws currently do not give my office the reach that I wish we had with regard, for example, if it’s not agricultural land, it’s not covered by the law that I referenced. If it’s rented, it’s not owned.

When asked about foreign-owned crypto mines, large groups of computers tasked with harvesting cryptocurrency, that are coming under increasing scrutiny in rural parts of the state, Griffin said he expects to see future legislative action to regulate them.

“I’ll just say this, there’s a lot of discussion about Chinese involvement in these. And let’s just say that I’m investigating all that,” Griffin said.

Griffin, a former Congressman, also discussed a recent conference he hosted on human trafficking as well as the Washington, D.C. drama surrounding Republicans selecting a new Speaker of the House.

You can watch his full interview in the video below.

Roby Brock is the Editor-in-Chief and Host of Talk Business & Politics.