State Senate Passes Foreign Land Ownership Bill

( – State lawmakers in Iowa advanced legislation to expand monitoring of foreign land ownership and crack down on entities that fail to file with state officials. Iowa state senators passed the bill in a unanimous vote on February 19.

The bill, Senate File 2204, grants Iowa’s attorney general the ability to issue subpoenas as part of land ownership investigations. Additionally, the legislation bolsters consequences for foreign entities that fail to register with the state or file a false report.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, who urged lawmakers to pass the legislation, said that “American soil should remain in American hands,” adding that laws should adapt to address threats of foreign land ownership in the United States. It is critical that Iowa maintain its status as a leading agricultural producer, Reynolds said in a statement praising the bill’s passage.

A US Department of Agriculture report found that 1.6% of farmland in Iowa is owned by a foreign entity, citing data up to December 2022. Most foreign-owned land in Iowa belongs to Canadians, according to the report.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig also praised passage of the bill. Iowa’s foreign land ownership laws will serve as a “model” for other states, Naig said in a statement.

The Iowa House of Representatives must pass the bill as well, although it cleared an Iowa House committee prior to its passage by the Senate. However, Iowa lawmakers are not alone in considering foreign land ownership legislation.

The Oklahoma House of Representatives is working on a bill to prohibit foreign land ownership in the state. The legislation is aimed at combating illegal cannabis operations in Oklahoma.

Counternarcotics officials in Oklahoma have arrested more than 250 people for alleged involvement in illegal cannabis cultivation. Many of the accused individuals are Chinese, Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics spokesman Mark Woodward said. Authorities have also raided operations tied to Mexican cartels and groups in Serbia, Russia, and Armenia, Woodward said.

Iowa and Oklahoma’s legislatures may set an example for other state lawmakers to follow in the future, particularly if their efforts prove successful.

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