South Dakota Gov Kristi Noem’s proposal to limit foreign ownership of agricultural land in the state was rejected by the State Senate 23-11 yesterday.
The bill would have established a Committee on Foreign Investment and revised existing limits
Noem’s target was China and the Chinese Communist Party’s control over companies and land ownership, but opponents said while the intent was good, the bill was badly flawed and needed too much work to avoid unintended consequences.
They also questioned giving any governor a veto over a land transaction involving a foreign company or foreign national.
Supporters acknowledged some of the shortcomings, but urged their colleagues to advance the bill and let the House address those problems.
They said that although only a small percentage of land transactions in South Dakota involved foreign residents or companies, those deals could significantly impact the state’s economy.
They pointed to the need to protect Ellsworth Air Force Base, especially when it starts serving as home to the new B-21 Raider stealth bomber – saying China wants intelligence on the bombers.
Senate President Pro Tem Lee Schoenbeck replied that the bill doesn’t provide much protection against espionage because someone could just buy a double-wide trailer near Ellsworth and fill it with electronics to spy.