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South Dakota aims to tighten foreign land ownership laws
South Dakota Ag Connection - 02/20/2024

South Dakota is preparing for significant changes in agricultural land ownership laws, following concerns over foreign land ownership from six countries, including China, following Chinese delegates' interest in the state's agricultural infrastructure two years ago, which was identified as spies by federal officials.

The South Dakota House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee has recommended a bill to the House of Representatives to ban agricultural land ownership by entities from foreign countries, updating a 1979 law that permits some foreign ownership under specific conditions.

The proposed legislation will explicitly prohibit agricultural land ownership by individuals, companies, or governments from China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela. It introduces a cap of 160 acres on land that can be owned by other foreign entities, aiming to enforce stronger regulations on foreign investment in South Dakota's agricultural sector.

The need for the bill arises from the loopholes in the current law, which have made enforcement challenging. It also responds to concerns over fairness and security, as countries like China do not allow American land ownership.

The legislation includes provisions for agricultural research leases and contracts for livestock feeding, ensuring that beneficial collaborations can continue within defined limits.

This legislative effort reflects South Dakota's commitment to safeguarding its agricultural interests and maintaining control over its land. With agriculture being a vital part of the state's economy, the proposed bill seeks to balance foreign trade benefits with national security and local ownership rights.

As the bill progresses, it may also impact projects with foreign investments, such as the proposed carbon dioxide pipeline project with Chinese investors, indicating the broad implications of tighter land ownership laws.


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