South Dakota Bans China, Russia from Purchasing Agricultural Land

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has signed HB 1231, which bans government-linked entities from China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and Venezuela from owning agricultural land in the state.

“South Dakota respects the Freedom to farm and ranch. That Freedom should not extend to our enemies,” said Governor Noem. “Over the past year, we have had continuous discussions to create this legislation to protect South Dakota from foreign adversaries buying up our ag land.”

According to South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB), foreign nationals or entities own 1% of all South Dakota agricultural land, which is about 350,000 acres or 550 square miles. The overwhelming majority of this ownership is Canadian, French, British, Spanish, German. The United States Department of Agriculture has reported to SDPB that as of 2020, the only country targeted in this bill that owns land in the state is Iran with 44 acres.

The signing of the Bill comes amid increasing concerns that land is being strategically bought by foreign (mainly Chinese) companies and governments for influence or espionage activities near military installations in the United States.