HELENA, Mont. — Montana has become the latest state to regulate the ownership of assets by foreign adversaries.
Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a bill Thursday to prohibit the sale or lease of agricultural land, critical infrastructure and homes near military assets in Montana to the government, businesses and individuals from China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia or Venezuela — all countries the U.S. government designates foreign adversaries.
The governor has said he will also sign a bill to make Montana the first state to try to block the social media app TikTok from being available in Montana. TikTok, owned by the Chinese tech company ByteDance, has been under intense scrutiny over worries it could hand over user data to the Chinese government.
Leaders at the FBI and the CIA along with numerous lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, have raised such concerns but have not presented any evidence that it has happened. TikTok has said it will challenge the Montana ban in court.
“Montana will not stand idly by as foreign adversaries buy up our farmland, harvest private data, and spy on Americans,” Gianforte said in a statement Thursday.
The property ownership ban goes into effect on Oct. 1.
Nationally, foreign entities and individuals control less than 3% of U.S. farmland, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Of that, those with ties to China control less than 1%, or roughly 600 square miles (340 square kilometers).
About two dozen states have some level of restriction on land ownership by foreign governments, businesses or individuals. Several states considered legislation this year after a Chinese spy balloon flew over the country in February.