Secretive $800M Purchase of Farmland Near California Air Base Raises Security Concerns

A C-5M Super Galaxy undergoes final preparations before takeoff Aug. 21, 2021, at Travis Air Force Base, California. Wikimedia Commons
July 26, 2023

A mysterious company has purchased more than 52,000 acres of farmland, much of it surrounding Travis Air Force Base in Solano County, California.

The buyer, Flannery Associates, is registered in Delaware, controlled by U.S. citizens, and receives 97 percent of its capital from U.S. investors and the rest from British and Irish investors, a company attorney told the Wall Street Journal. Public officials, however, have raised concerns about the purchases, worth more than $800 million, by an unknown buyer.

"What is this all about?" asked Rep. John Garamendi (D., Calif.), Politico reported. "Why is an unknown, non-communicative secret organization buying up all the land around Travis Air Force Base?" The base is in Garamendi’s district, though one investor connected to the project told the Free Beacon it has nothing to do with China or national security.

Other purchases of land surrounding U.S. military bases and assets have raised red flags before. Chinese-owned Fufeng Group drew scrutiny last year when it attempted to build a corn mill on 300 acres of land it bought 12 miles from Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota. A former member of the Chinese Army in 2021 purchased 130,000 acres near Laughlin Air Force Base in South Texas. The FBI found tech made by Chinese tech company Huawei, blacklisted by the United States, mounted on cell towers near nuclear missile silos.

The Senate voted 91-7 Tuesday evening to include an amendment in its annual defense spending bill banning purchases of U.S. farmland by China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran. Florida and Montana passed restrictions in May on Chinese nationals buying land in the states. Other states, including Texas and Alabama, are considering similar legislation.

"There’s no shortage of rumors of what may or may not be happening," said Rep. Mike Thompson (D., Calif.), whose district includes part of Solano County. "We just don’t know."

Flannery Associates' intentions for the California land remain unclear. The company's attorney told the Journal any "speculation" about whether the purchases are "motivated by the proximity to Travis Air Force Base" is unfounded.

Published under: California