PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Senate on Friday gave final approval to legislation that would require entities to report whether they own agricultural land and whether they have “any beneficial foreign owners.”
HB-1189 now heads to Governor Kristi Noem for her decision whether to sign it into law.
But an amendment to the governor’s legislation that would give stronger protection to agriculture producers and processors facing nuisance lawsuits means it now needs at least another step in the legislative process.
Republican Sen. David Wheeler changed HB-1090 so that it now covers both owners and lessees and broadens when the producer or processor can be sued. Senators then voted 25-8 for it. The bill now must return to the House of Representatives for a decision whether to agree with the Senate version. The House voted 61-9 the first time.
On HB-1189, Republican Sen. Ryan Maher said the new requirement requiring entities to report ownership of ag land would allow state government to better track foreign ownership. “It’s never been asked before,” he told the Senate.
House Republican leader Will Mortenson was its prime sponsor. Maher was the lead Senate sponsor. A much more complicated proposal for tracking foreign ownership, SB-185, from Noem failed in the Senate earlier this week. It was opposed by nearly all of South Dakota’s major agricultural groups and wasn’t supported by any.
Senate Republican leader Casey Crabtree told reporters Thursday that legislators, agricultural group leaders and the governor’s office would work on a more acceptable version of her concept for next year. Noem wants to prevent China from using South Dakota ag land to spy on possible targets such as Ellsworth Air Force Base.
A 1979 state law already prohibits alien ownership of more than 160 acres of South Dakota agricultural land. It reportedly has never been enforced. Rep. Mortenson, an attorney who works on rural land transactions, said the existing law doesn’t cover entities.