- The Florida Senate Judiciary Committee has advanced a bill aimed at restricting the sale of agricultural land to entities tied to certain countries.
- The proposed legislation, sponsored by Sen. Jay Collins, R-Tampa, would prevent foreign countries of concern, including China, from gaining control of Florida farmland.
- The bill has not yet been passed by the Florida Senate, but its approval by the Judiciary Committee allows it to move to the Rules Committee for further review.
The Florida Senate Judiciary Committee has advanced a bill that would restrict the sale of agricultural land and property within 20 miles of military bases to entities tied to certain countries. The proposed legislation, sponsored by Tampa Republican Senator Jay Collins, is aimed at preventing foreign countries of concern, including China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and Syria, from gaining control of Florida farmland.
Gov. Ron DeSantis and Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson have pushed for restrictions on farmland acquisitions by people and entities linked to the Chinese government, citing national security concerns. Collins’ proposal expands on these restrictions and also prevents Florida government agencies from entering into contracts involving access to personal information with entities tied to countries of concern.
Entities seeking to bid on government contracts involving access to individual personal information would also have to provide signed affidavits declaring they don’t rule afoul of prohibitions on ties to countries of concern.
The bill, SB 264, has not yet been passed by the Florida Senate, but the Judiciary Committee’s approval allows it to move to the Rules Committee for further review before it can go to the full Senate for a vote. A similar bill (HB 1355) has been filed in the House.
Opponents of the bill have raised concerns that it may create a discriminatory situation for individuals who want to purchase property in Florida. However, Collins emphasized that the intent of the bill is to differentiate between people who have migrated to the U.S. and those still tied to the targeted governments.
The bill would take effect on July 1, and people or entities that own agricultural land before then would not have to give up the property. However, they would be prevented from expanding their acreage after that date.
While it is unclear how much agricultural land in Florida is owned by entities tied to China, a 2021 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture states that China owns 96,975 acres in the “South Region,” which includes Florida.