Foreign companies should not own Missouri farm ground, reader says

Missouri farmland should not be owned by foreign corporations, period.

This should not be a controversial statement but in our state Legislature, corporate agriculture lobbyists rule over good sense and the will of Missouri residents.

This is the situation:

From 1978 until 2013, it was against the law for foreign corporations to purchase missouri farmland.  Then in 2013, the state legislature inserted language into a large agricultural bill that opened up nearly 300,000 acres of missouri farmland for foreign corporations to purchase.  The missouri department of agriculture was put in charge  of tracking foreign farmland purchases and to enforce the cap.

Two weeks later, Smithfield foods was purchased by a large chinese meatpacking corporation that is connected to and received money from the chinese government) and instantly acquired over 40,000 acres of missouri farmland.  This was no coincidence.  Corporate agriculture lobbyists lobbied to change state law to allow the sale of tens of thousands of additional acres of missouri farmland to be available for more  foreign corporate purchases.

To be clear, we are talking about absentee foreign corporations (often connected to foreign governments).  We are not talking about individual people and families who are from other countries. …

Since 2015, foreign corporations have been allowed to purchase a virtually unlimited amount of our precious and limited farmland.

As a consequence, Chinese-owned Smithfield Foods now owns over 40,000 acres of prime Missouri farmland, and, because of a 2015 loophole, we don’t even know how much of our farmland is under foreign corporate ownership today.

This puts our food security and national security at risk as foreign corporations like Smithfield Foods will use our farmland to produce food that will likely be sent back to China and not available for domestic use. We will likely never get that land back.

It is time for us to let our state elected “representatives” know that we’re aware that they sold our state and nation down the river and put our food supply at risk for some campaign donations.

Now they need to put greed aside and fix this law before we face grave consequences for their short-sightedness.

We must demand that the Missouri Legislature create a law that stops all future purchases of Missouri farmland by foreign corporate interests and that forces the Missouri Department of Agriculture to determine exactly how much of our farmland is currently under foreign corporate ownership.

We must do our part now to reclaim our farmland for family farms and rural communities and protect our food supply before the next crisis hits.

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