- Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin has ordered a Chinese state-owned company to divest approximately 160 acres of land in Craighead County.
- The company, Northrup King Seed Co., a subsidiary of Syngenta Seeds, is ultimately owned by China National Chemical Company (ChemChina).
- A civil penalty of $280,000 has been imposed for failure to report foreign ownership promptly.
- This is the first enforcement action under Act 636 of 2023, which prohibits foreign entities from owning Arkansas agricultural lands.
- The penalty represents 25% of the reported fair market value of the property, the maximum civil penalty allowed by law.
Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin has taken a significant step by ordering a Chinese state-owned company, Northrup King Seed Co., to divest its ownership of approximately 160 acres of land in Craighead County. This marks the first enforcement action under Act 636 of 2023, which aims to ban prohibited foreign entities from owning agricultural lands in Arkansas.
The Foreign Ownership Issue
Northrup King Seed Co., a Syngenta Seeds, LLC subsidiary, owns the land in question. The ultimate owner is China National Chemical Company (ChemChina), a state-owned enterprise. Griffin has ordered ChemChina to divest this land within two years, or he will initiate an enforcement action in Craighead County Circuit Court.
Civil Penalty Imposed
In addition to the divestment order, a civil penalty of $280,000 has been imposed on the company for failing to file required documents promptly with the Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture. This penalty represents 25% of the reported fair market value of the property, which is the maximum civil penalty allowed by law.
Legal Background: Act 636 and Act 1046
Under Act 636, state law prohibits a “foreign-party-controlled business” from acquiring or holding public or private land in Arkansas. Act 1046 of 2021 mandates that a foreign person required to file a report under the federal Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act (AFIDA) should also file a copy with the Arkansas Department of Agriculture within the federal time frame.