In another instance of expanding government to prop up her political posture, Governor Noem now wants to create a new board, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States–South Dakota (CFIUSSD—even the name is bloated) to play at foreign policy ahead of a 2024 Presidential campaign.
The CFIUSSD would investigate proposed purchases of farms and ranches to “prevent nations who hate us—like Communist China—from buying up our state’s agricultural land.” The legislators who will carry the Governor’s water on this proposal during Session say we need the CFIUSSD to stop China from choking off our food supply:
“For those of us who have lived and worked on the land, we know that it’s our past, but also our future,” said Senator Erin Tobin. “We grow the world’s food, and we need to protect the security of that food supply for our kids” [Office of the Governor, press release, 2022.12.13].
Gee, I remember the good old days when South Dakota’s leaders, including Kristi Noem herself, encouraged China to invest in South Dakota’s agricultural and other commercial resources, when we sent state officials to China and flew Chinese poobahs to Pierre to meet with the Governor to beg Chinese investors to invest in South Dakota’s ag industry.
Of course, China doesn’t need to buy up farmland to exert control over our food supply. China just needs to buy up more processors, like Smithfield Foods. (Hey, is that why Noem campaigned for the second slaughterhouse in Sioux Falls, to drive Smithfield’s packing plant out of business and shift the area hog business to an American-owned company?)
CFIUSSD boosters are also warning that the Chinese could buy up ranchland and set up spy bases and anti-aircraft guns:
“With vital national security resources like Ellsworth Air Force Base, we cannot afford for our enemies to purchase land in South Dakota,” said Representative-elect Gary Cammack. “We want to keep this land in the hands of South Dakota agriculture producers. I look forward to working with Governor Noem and my colleagues to guarantee the continued security of our state and nation” [Governor, 2022.12.13].
Yes, the floor speeches on the CFIUSSD bill should be hilarious.
Also hilarious is the fact that this bill, meant to fight Communist China, would give South Dakota’s governor a stunningly Communist power: the power to approve or deny any ag land purchase:
The plan creates a new board, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States – South Dakota (CFIUS-SD), which will investigate proposed purchases of ag land by foreign interests and recommend either approval or denial to the Governor [Governor, 2022.12.13].
Think about that for a moment: if you want to sell your property, you have to inform the Governor and get her permission. If the Governor doesn’t like your buyer, the Governor can veto your sale. Government dictating to whom you can and cannot sell your property—that’s Communism, right?
That’s certainly unconstitutional—un-state-constitutional! South Dakota’s bill of rights, Article 6 of the state constitution, leads off with the declaration that the inherent rights of “all men” include “acquiring and protecting property.” Article 6 Section 1 does not distinguish Chinese property buyers from South Dakotan or Minnesotan or Dutch or Korean property buyers; it ascribes the inherent right of acquiring property to all people. Article 6 Section 14 making any distinction “between resident aliens and citizens, in reference to the possession, enjoyment or descent of property.” So if a Chinese investor comes here on a green card (again, something we used to encourage) or just buys an RV and licenses it in Sioux Falls, that Chinese investor enjoys the same constitutional right to buy or sell a bushel of corn, a corn field, or a corn ethanol plant as Walt Bones. And if Governor Noem and the Legislature try to stop the Chinese from trading in South Dakota land, the Chinese will do something else that South Dakota encourages: form a shell corporation, or however many shells are necessary to hide the identity of the actual owners, assign titular ownership to a nice white fellow on Phillips Avenue, and send lawyers to tell the Governor to keep her darn government hands off their constitutional right to property.
Expect the Communist Chinese shell company lawyers to also invoke Article 6 Section 18, the equal privileges or immunities clause, which says the state can’t grant “to any citizen, class of citizens or corporation, privileges or immunities which upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens or corporations.” The CFIUSSD would make buying ag land a special privilege of certain corporations and exclude others from exercising that constitutional right.
We eagerly await the bill Noem, Tobin, and Cammack promise to bring to the 2023 Session. We eagerly await the speeches they will make to defend South Dakota from Chinese Communism with homegrown Communism and government overreach. And Governor Noem gets to sign this bill, we look forward to the silk-suited lawsuit that will quickly destroy the CFIUSSD and the Governor’s effort to subject land purchases to her personal approval.