Securing South Dakota Agriculture
By: Governor Kristi Noem
February 3, 2023
Agriculture is the bedrock of South Dakota. The ag industry is tough, and it’s often thankless, but it truly is how we feed the world. As a lifelong farmer and rancher myself, I take great pride in my rural upbringing. Not a day goes by where I don’t appreciate the life lessons I learned from my parents on our farm. At our house it was always go, go, go. We were constantly making things better, faster, and more efficient. That’s the exact attitude of so many of our farmers and ranchers across South Dakota. I still can’t believe I’m lucky enough to go to work every day to serve them.
I've made my living from farming and ranching, worked on ag policy in the state legislature, and helped write and pass farm bills and risk management programs. I sat on the State Committee of the USDA Farm Service Agency, which oversees all federal farm programs in the state and worked on food policy for over 20 Years.
As Governor, it’s not only my job to work to help our largest industry thrive, it’s also important that I recognize and fight national security threats we face right here at home that affect our land.
Today, agriculture is a $32 billion industry, and it’s responsible for 1 in 5 jobs in the state. When agriculture thrives, the entire state thrives. That’s why it is critical that we continue to protect our ag industry for the next generation.
This legislative session, I’m working with legislators on two initiatives to accomplish just that. I announced a bill earlier this month focused on preserving agriculture in South Dakota. It protects operations from frivolous claims that can delay development and increase costs for producers. This legislation will ensure the continued growth and success of the state’s agriculture industry.
We also have a duty to protect South Dakota ag land from national security threats. Possibly the greatest external threat facing our nation today is the Chinese Communist Party. Unfortunately, foreign countries now hold approximately 40 million acres of ag land in the United States – and that number will only increase as evil governments like China step up their game. This hasn’t been much of a problem in South Dakota. At least, not yet. But we must face the fact that our state is a target.
Earlier this week, Steve Yates, Chair of the China Policy Initiative at the America First Policy Institute, came to Pierre to emphasize the need for this legislation. Yates spoke with South Dakota legislators about the important example that our bill is setting for other states across the nation. If we fail here, it will have a negative effect on the whole country.
South Dakota is now the only home of the B-21 Bomber. This next generation military asset will be housed at Ellsworth Air Force Base. That’s huge for both our state’s economy and our national security, but it also means that hostile countries like China are going to do whatever they can to get intelligence on that bomber. Just last year we saw a Chinese entity purchase land near an Air Force Base in North Dakota. Though they claimed it was for corn processing, there is not enough corn nearby to justify the facility. So, it appears to be more nefarious.
We cannot allow this kind of situation to happen in South Dakota. I’m working with legislators to block nations that hate us from purchasing ag land. This bill creates a Committee on Foreign Investment in the United State – South Dakota. We’ll rely on national and state security experts and legal counsel to review any purchases, leases, and transfers of South Dakota ag land. If purchases are made by a foreign person, company, or entity, they will recommend whether the purchase should be approved. And if that purchase comes from a nation that hates America, I will not allow it to go forward.
This week, we saw a Chinese spy balloon hovering over Montana. This goes to show that it is more important now than ever for states to step up and defend our people from the threat posed by the Chinese Communist party. This is exactly why we need to pass these bills. We cannot allow Chinese interests to purchase any South Dakota ag land, much less land near any military base or critical infrastructure.
I am committed to keeping South Dakota secure, and that includes protecting our farmers and ranchers from hostile foreign intervention.