Missouri lawmakers in 2013 voted to allow up to 1% of farmland to be held by foreign ownership. Following that, a Chinese company purchased Smithfield foods, considered the largest pig and pork producer in the world. Senate-elect Rusty Black of Chillicothe pre-filed a bill that would eliminate that 1%.
“I think it’s important, as people go through and have this discussion, to make sure that they realize there’s a difference between whether it’s corporate ownership or some kind of personal ownership by people or individuals that may have green card status, may not be full U.S. citizens or what people consider U.S. citizens,” according to Black. “There’s a tremendous amount of land owned by individuals that are not necessarily what many people consider U.S. citizens in our state.”
His bill seeks to get rid of the 1%, adding that adding that a foreign corporation should own 0% of land used for production in Missouri. He says his bill concerns with foreign corporate ownership of the Show-Me State’s farmland. If the total ownership exceeds 1%, a sale or transfer will be submitted to the Department of Agriculture for review. Additionally, if the land was found to be used for non-agricultural purposes, the violation should be reported to the attorney general, under this bill.
“Being the senator that represents that area of the state that does have it, I thought it was important for me to be part of that discussion because Smithfield Foods supplies a lot of career opportunities, employment opportunities in our part of the state,” adds Black. “If people get too excited and decide they’re just going to ban people and take land, take property away from them, I want to be at the table when that discussion’s going on.”
Black adds that he filed the bill with the intent of passing, but this marks the third time he’s pre-filed it. He hopes to gain support and passes this bill, explaining that he doesn’t want world agricultural firms being part of the Missouri environment.
Click here for more on Senate Bill 76.