CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — Newly-introduced legislation would prevent the purchase of West Virginia natural resources, farmland and property by citizens of the People’s Republic of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, and others on the State Department’s Countries of Concern list.

Citizens from the Countries of Concern list would be banned from participating in tax sales.

It was introduced by West Virginia State Auditor JB McCuskey, who conducts the property tax sales for real estate and mineral interests, and West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt is encouraging its passage as well.

“As we continue to battle supply chain issues, rising energy prices and out of control inflation, we need to be thoroughly aware of who is investing in American owned assets. Agriculture is a prime target by bad foreign actors, and they will do anything to steal, copy or divert resources that benefit their own country. We have grave concerns regarding the future of American farmland and this bill is a step in the right direction in protecting our nation’s interests,” Commissioner Leonhardt said in a press release.

The release cites The Wall Street Journal in saying Chinese ownership of United States farmland went from $81 million in 2010 to $1.8 billion in 2020.

The bill would also require any business that wants to participate in the tax sale to register with the Secretary of State’s Office, and would create a bidder registry for individuals, preventing drug dealers, criminals and “those who do not have West Virginia’s interest at heart” from bidding.