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South Dakota bans agriculture land sales to certain nations
South Dakota Ag Connection - 02/12/2024

In a move to safeguard national and state security, South Dakota has introduced House Bill 1231, which effectively bans the sale of agricultural land within the state to entities or individuals from China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and Venezuela.

The bill, supported by the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DANR), aims to prevent foreign control over the state's agricultural resources, particularly by countries considered hostile towards the United States.

Despite the absence of direct support from the agricultural industry, the bill has garnered attention and approval within the legislative framework, passing a committee stage with a unanimous vote. The bill is designed to strengthen a 1979 law, closing loopholes that previously allowed foreign entities certain leeways in land ownership and specifying the six nations from which ownership is now prohibited.

The legislation is not without its complexities, as it raises questions about property rights and the potential impact on international trade relations, especially considering South Dakota's significant agricultural exports to some of the banned countries. However, proponents argue that the bill is a necessary step towards maintaining the integrity and security of the U.S. food supply and agricultural economy.

Critics worry about the bill's implications for trade and the agricultural industry's day-to-day operations, but officials, including DANR Secretary Hunter Roberts and South Dakota Trade CEO Luke Lindberg, assure that the bill is unlikely to negatively affect agricultural producers or international trade dynamics.

Instead, they argue that strong trade agreements and equitable ownership laws are essential for a balanced and fair international trade environment.

House Bill 1231 also introduces mechanisms for enforcement and reporting, allowing for greater oversight of foreign land ownership and leasing within the state. This includes provisions for county recorders to report suspicious land transactions, aiming to create a more transparent and secure process for agricultural land sales and ownership in South Dakota.

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