The Department of Agriculture has filed a $2.3 billion sale of $7 billion in farmland and water rights in the West to the Trump administration.
The deal was announced Wednesday in a federal filing that noted the department is still reviewing the land deals, but “does not believe the acquisition is in the public interest.”
The department said it plans to use the proceeds to build “high-priority” infrastructure projects for farmers and ranchers.
The land deals are a large part of a wider strategy to modernize the agriculture department.
The Trump administration is also seeking to sell off farmland and waterways to make way for new pipelines and transmission lines.
The land deals would allow the department to sell land in Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington to private investors.
In addition, the agency will sell a 1.7 million-acre parcel in the northern Arizona desert, according to the filing.
Land deals could be part of the Trump agenda to revitalize the agricultural sector, which has been hit by a sharp decline in production and has been at risk of being lost in the climate change and agricultural downturns.
In March, the Trump-era USDA issued a rule calling for farmers to submit to a series of surveys to determine their ability to sell their land and water.
But it has been unclear whether that would apply to the land sales, which are being led by a private company.
At least one environmental group is concerned about the proposed land deals and is urging farmers and landowners to oppose them.
“We’re not happy about the government taking land from farmers who can’t sell it for profit and then selling it to a private developer,” said Kevin Koster, executive director of the Environmental Working Group.
Koster said the land deal would send the message that the government was not taking agriculture seriously, and could jeopardize farmers’ livelihoods.