According to public documents, since 2018, a firm named “Flannery Associates” has spent more than $800 million buying about 54,000 acres of property near the Travis Air Force Base designated for agricultural use.
Concerns about national security have been sparked by this shadowy company’s acquisitions of property totaling almost $1 billion near an Air Force facility in California.
The Air Force’s Office of Foreign Investment Risk Review is investigating the matter.
Attorneys representing Flannery claim that most of the company’s funding (97%) comes from investors in the United States.
However, federal investigators have spent the last eight months trying to pin down the company’s financial backers.
The federal government has launched an inquiry into the motivations of this “mystery company” after it was discovered to have significantly increased its purchasing activity since the beginning of the year. Flannery’s reasons for purchasing property close to the military installation remain mysterious.
Given the opacity of these acquisitions, several legislators have said they are not ruling out the potential that the organization has connections to foreign opponents.
According to Representative John Garamendi (D-CA), no one knows who or what Flannery is, and their acquisitions make little sense to anybody in the area,” suggesting that there is cause for fear that Flannery may have links to China or other foreign opponents.
This isn’t the first property acquisition near a military post to cause alarm. A few months back, there was concern with a contract in Grand Forks, North Dakota, with the Chinese-owned Fufeng Group.
After locals voiced concerns about surveillance, a plan to buy 300 acres of farmland near the Grand Forks Air Force installation was scrapped.
Similar opposition to a planned facility by Chinese electric car battery company Gotion has caused the postponement of a separate project in Green Charter Township, Michigan.
The USDA estimates that China owns over 384,000 acres of agricultural land in the United States and is expanding exponentially.
For the last five years, China’s purchases of agricultural property in the United States have grown by more than 50%, with most of this acreage concentrated in the South and just around 16% on the West Coast.