Syngenta Forced to Sell Arkansas Land

Arkansas Orders Syngenta to Sell Land in State, Pay Hefty Fine

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
Connect with Chris:
Syngenta has been ordered to divest 160 acres of Northrup King (NK) land holdings in Arkansas after state officials denounced Chinese agricultural land holdings in the state Tuesday. The company has two years to divest the land. It also is ordered to pay a $280,000 penalty for being late in filing paperwork claiming the land, which NK has owned since 1988. (DTN file photo)

OMAHA (DTN) -- In the push to end Chinese ownership of U.S. agricultural land, the state of Arkansas on Tuesday ordered Chinese-owned Syngenta Seeds and its subsidiary Northrup King Seed Co. to sell land holdings in the state.

The company also was ordered to pay $280,000 for failing to file paperwork on its land holdings in the state in a timely manner.

The move elevates the efforts against Chinese-owned agricultural land in the U.S., which includes efforts by Congress also to clamp down on Chinese-owned agricultural assets.

According to USDA, Chinese businesses and investors own about 380,000 acres in the U.S. Some high-profile efforts by Chinese companies to build in the U.S. have raised attention to the issue, including a failed effort by a company to build a corn mill in North Dakota that Air Force officials said was too close to their base near Grand Forks.

Still, companies such as Syngenta Seed and Smithfield Foods, also owned by a Chinese company, have largely been left alone until now.

Northrup King, known as NK, is one of Syngenta's largest seed brands in the U.S., along with Golden Harvest.

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin issued a letter ordering Northrup King Seed to sell 160 acres of land in the state.

Arkansas officials held a news conference Tuesday announcing the move, which is the first under a state law signed by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders earlier this year. The law prohibits Chinese entities from owning land in the state.

"Seeds are technology," Huckabee said. "Chinese state-owned corporations filter that technology back to their homeland, stealing American research and telling our enemies how to target American farms."

Huckabee noted ChemChina is on a Department of Defense list of Chinese military companies "posing a clear threat to our state."

Huckabee said Chinese and Russians who have left those countries are welcome in the state, but this act is about loyalty, she said. "We simply can't trust anyone who pledges allegiance to a hostile foreign power."

Arkansas will require Syngenta subsidiary Northrup King to sell the land within the next two years. Northrup King will also face a fine of $280,000, which is 25% of the value of the company's $1.12 million acreage holdings, for being late in reporting its land holdings to the state.

Syngenta, in a statement, criticized the move. "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," Syngenta stated. The company added, "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."

Syngenta, which is based in Switzerland, was bought by ChemChina, a state-owned entity, in 2017 for $43 billion.

Syngenta added in its response, "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."

The company noted Syngenta owns roughly 1,500 acres of agricultural land in the U.S. Since ChemChina took over the company, Syngenta stated the company has added about 200 acres.

"No one from China has ever directed any Syngenta executive to buy, lease, or otherwise engage in land acquisition in the United States," Syngenta added.

Chris Clayton can be reached at

Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @ChrisClaytonDTN

Chris Clayton can be reached at

Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @ChrisClaytonDTN

Chris Clayton