South Dakota is working to halt ag land buying from certain countries

The bill would ban farmland ownership by governments or nationals of Iran, Russia, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and China.

South Dakota lawmakers are working to prevent foreign agricultural land ownership from certain countries.

The bill was passed by the state’s House of Representatives and would ban farmland ownership by governments or nationals of Iran, Russia, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and China. The Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources says a lot of discussion went into the decision.

“The department, in concert with the legislature, worked on addressing. Currently, since 1979, we’ve had a rule on the books that says if you’re a foreign entity, foreign country or foreign citizen, you should not be able to buy more than 160 acres of South Dakota agriculture land the way it was written has a few minor flaws. That clever lawyers can draft around, so there really isn’t a limit right now, and we’re concerned about that,” said Hunter Roberts.

The House Majority Leader Will Mortenson says the bill is good policy and helps clean up the ‘entity’ loophole. Roberts says this concern isn’t unique to South Dakota.

“Lots of other states are kind of looking at this because it’s becoming a bigger problem looking at percentage-wise, foreign ownership of land or foreign control of land has gone up substantially over the last 20 years and we think it’s a good idea to get ahead of it instead of waiting around getting behind it.”

The bill now goes to the South Dakota Senate to continue its path through the legislative process.

Related Stories
While the “I” states are waiting for better weather, corn plantings are picking up in drier corners of farm country.