Buying Farmland -- A New China Connection

Inside Dakota Ag

A man from China interested in buying farmland toured South Dakota recently. He said he planned to grow 'beans and supply his homeland.

Published on: May 7, 2013

Greg Smeenk, a Bel Fourche, S.D. land broker, wrote in his blog at in March that he “recently had an interesting experience showing two gentlemen from China farmland.”

“We looked at thousands of acres of farmland from the west end of the state to the east end of the state and beyond. When asked what they envisioned for their purpose of buying farmland they responded that they intended to supply China with 20% of their soybean purchases,” he wrote..

“The hardest thing for them I think was to wrap their mind around the huge expanse of land we have here in South Dakota. They said an average size farm in China might be one acre and private individuals can’t own land, it is all owned by the government. Another thing they mentioned was that nobody in China can own a gun; they had never shot one.

“They were also enthralled with the cowboy lifestyle evident here in western South Dakota, and said they had never been on a horse. Contemplating this bit of information and having one afternoon where we didn’t have anything scheduled I had an idea. Dakota Properties, being the full service agency that it is, I asked them if they would like to go ride some horses, maybe shoot a gun or two?

“Ever heard a hoot and a holler in Chinese? Me neither, but I think I did that day! Went out to our ranch west of Belle Fourche toward Aladdin, saddled up a couple horses, found a couple old hats and all of a sudden we had a couple authentic Chinese Cowboys! Took along some pistols, a shotgun, a rifle, and plenty of ammo, almost sounded like the 4th of July! Took plenty of pictures, I’m sure South Dakota is famous somewhere in China!

“Also got into a heated poker game high on a ridge in the Black Hills. [I] haven’t figured out where to spend my Chinese winnings yet, maybe I’ll head for China! They had an absolute ball. They have yet to buy any land here in South Dakota but I think our foreign relations are at a whole new level!”

“The world is definitely changing. This will be my 10th year in real estate, I have never seen more interest in land than I have in the last few months. Foreign ownership of land will continue to be more prevalent, we definitely need to be aware of the challenges. And at the end of the day, just remember to enjoy the journey!”

Smeenk says the Chinese men haven’t bought any land yet. But they remain in contact.

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