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- Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a new bill banning Chinese citizens from buying land in Florida.
- DeSantis cited concerns that Chinese investors have been buying up too much farmland in the state.
- An exception allows those on non-tourist visas to buy smaller properties away from military bases.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law on Monday that bans most Chinese citizens from purchasing land in his state.
The new bill, SB 246, prevents Chinese nationals from buying land in Florida unless they are also American citizens or permanent residents.
“Today, Florida makes it very clear we don’t want the CCP in the Sunshine State,” DeSantis said at a press conference on Monday. “We want to maintain this as the free state of Florida.”
There’s an exception to the new rule. Lawmakers added an amendment allowing anyone holding a non-tourist visa to buy one property of up to two acres, as long as it’s not within five miles of a military installation.
Russian, Cuban, Iranian, North Korean, Syrian, and Venezuelan citizens are also banned from buying property within 10 miles of military bases — but were not wholly banned from purchasing land in Florida.
DeSantis called the latest measure a response to a “concerted effort” by the Chinese Communist Party to acquire farmland in Florida.
He referenced an incident where a Chinese-owned drug developer tried to buy 1,400 acres in Levy County for $5.5 million in late 2022.
“Our food security is also national security, and so we don’t want the CCP in charge of any food production,” he said.
Florida has more than 21.8 million acres of privately held agricultural land, around 6% of which is owned by foreign investors, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s 2021 data.
The agriculture department’s report doesn’t say how much of this farmland is owned by China. But it noted that Chinese investors in 2021 owned 383,935 acres of land worth $2.1 billion across the entirety of the US. That accounts for about 1% of all foreign-held US land.
Investors from Canada own the most US land out of any foreign country, holding 12.8 million acres worth around $11.6 billion, per the department’s 2021 report.
Dozens of Chinese-American and green card holders protested the new bill at Florida’s capitol, saying the legislation’s language is too broad and could open the door to discrimination.
Representatives for DeSantis and the Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment sent outside regular business hours.