Thursday, February 22, 2024

Gov. Gianforte Signs Bill Banning Foreign Adversaries From Buying Montana Ag Land

by Colter Brown

HELENA, Mont. – Governor Greg Gianforte today signed a bill that prohibits the sale or lease of Montana ag land, critical infrastructure, and homes near military assets by Montana entities to foreign adversaries.

“Montana will not stand idly by as foreign adversaries buy up our farmland, harvest private data, and spy on Americans,” Gov. Gianforte said. “Today, we’re doing what the Biden administration won’t to defend our economic security, food security, and national security assets.”

The ban, which applies to foreign adversaries and corporations headquartered within those nations, goes into effect later this year following the governor’s signature of Senate Bill 203, sponsored by Sen. Ken Bogner, R-Miles City.

“China especially has shown a concerning interest in acquiring lands and resources in our country that could help them with spying efforts, economic competition, and gaining the upper hand in any conflict with the United States,” said Bogner, a Marine Corps veteran. “Foreign adversaries and corporations acting at their behest have no business owning or leasing any part of Montana that is important to our national security.”  

The new law defines foreign adversaries as “any foreign government or foreign nongovernment person determined by the U.S. secretary of commerce to have engaged in a long-term pattern or serious instances of conduct significantly adverse to the national security of the United States or the security and safety of the people of the United States.”

It applies to corporations headquartered within and the governments of China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and Venezuela.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Chinese ownership of farmland in the United States multiplied by 20-fold from 2010 to 2020. In 2010, China owned $81 million in assets of land in the United States, and in 2020, those holdings had increased to $1.8 billion.

In Montana, foreign ownership of ag land is relatively low, but has increased significantly in the past decade. As of 2018, 697,590 acres in Montana were owned by foreign entities, accounting for 1.2% of the land.

The signing of this bill into law comes just months after a Chinese spy balloon infiltrated United States airspace and flew over critical national security assets in Montana.

“From the spy balloon to CCP-linked companies buying American farmland to the Chinese Communist Party spying on Americans through TikTok, now is the time for bold, decisive action to defend our national interests. If the federal government won’t protect America from Communist China and hostile adversaries, Montana will,” Gov. Gianforte said.

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Gov. Greg Gianforte

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