Iowa Senate approves law on foreign ownership of land

The Iowa Senate has taken a significant step in implementing stricter regulations on land ownership by foreign entities. During the initial day of floor debate, a bill was passed with the aim of imposing tighter restrictions on landowners.

Senate File 2204 proposes granting the attorney general with subpoena powers to conduct investigations into land ownership. Additionally, the bill seeks to enhance penalties for foreign entities that fail to file with the secretary of state or provide false information in their reports.

The bill was unanimously passed with minimal discussion on the floor.

Governor Kim Reynolds made a request for the bill.

“Iowa has a crucial role in ensuring food and energy security worldwide, and it is vital for us to uphold our position as the leading agricultural force,” Reynolds emphasized. “In light of evolving threats posed by foreign ownership of land, it is imperative that we adapt our laws accordingly. We must ensure that American soil remains under American control. I am delighted that the Senate has approved my legislation, which offers enhanced safeguards for Iowa farmland and imposes stricter penalties on foreign owners who fail to comply with our laws.”

The House committee successfully passed a companion bill last week.

According to the most recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, foreign entities own 1.6% of Iowa’s farmland.

According to a recent report, Canada is the largest owner of land in Iowa, with 198,667 acres. “All others” come in second place with 181,258 acres. This data is accurate as of December 31, 2022.

According to Micah Brown, a staff attorney at the National Agriculture Law Center, Iowa currently boasts one of the most robust regulations concerning the ownership of farmland by non-U.S. entities. In a recent interview with The Center Square, Brown highlighted the strength of Iowa’s existing laws in this area.

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According to Brown, the law is well-structured as it includes essential enforcement mechanisms and penalty measures. He also points out that certain states do not address the issue of enforcement and penalties.

The Senate has also approved a bill aiming to enhance postpartum Medicaid care for mothers by extending the coverage period from two months to one year. However, Democrats have raised concerns about the bill’s provision that limits eligibility to 215% of the federal poverty level, as opposed to the current threshold of 375%.

According to the fiscal note of the bill, the state would save $1.7 million in fiscal year 2025 and $40,000 in the following year. However, there would be a cost of $286,000 to the state in fiscal year 2027.

Senator Janet Petersen, representing Des Moines, put forth an amendment to Senate File 2251, advocating for the retention of eligibility at 375%. Unfortunately, the amendment was not successful.

According to Peterson, the focus should not be on limiting or contracting care, but rather on expanding it.

The bill was passed by the Senate with a vote of 34-13.

Reynolds suggested the alteration.

“In response to the Senate’s action, Governor Reynolds expressed the importance of building a culture of life in Iowa by ensuring that families receive the support they need from the very beginning. She emphasized that two months of postpartum care is not sufficient and advocated for extending it to 12 months for women with the greatest need. This extended period would enable women to fully recover from childbirth, access crucial family planning services, manage chronic health issues, and address mental health concerns. Governor Reynolds believes that in order for our state to thrive, our families must be given the necessary support to be strong.”

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