The race for governor is heating up with a hot-button topic being foreign ownership of agriculture land.

During a Missouri Farm Bureau candidate forum that was hosted by Brownfield Ag News, Republican candidate, state Senator Bill Eigel, accused China of manipulating its currency to drive the market value of Missouri farmland.

“In fact, it’s not just China that does this,” he said. “The World Economic Forum is out there trying to get their hands in control of their food supply. That’s why I’m an advocate for not only restricting the sale of Missouri farmland to any foreign entity or country, I’ve also filed a constitutional amendment this week that would require divestiture of the foreign land that’s already owned by foreign entities here in the state of Missouri.”

Democratic candidate Crystal Quade said it was an issue that ‘needs addressing.’

“I know where I’m from, I have a lot of multigeneration farmers who lived right next door to me and, you know, wanted their grandkids to be on the same land farming that land and I think it’s important that as a state government we really are looking at who controls access to our food,” said Quade.

Republican candidate, and Missouri Secretary of State, Jay Ashcroft helped to craft legislation that, ultimately, failed to become law. He said his bill would have protected Missouri’s agriculture industry.

“Food security is national security,” said Ashcroft. “We’ve seen problems with countries like China building up land around military installations and otherwise, we need to take a stand against that. So, we had a bill that would do that, passed by the (Missouri) House. Unfortunately, the Senate…they did the senate stuff to it, I’ll just leave it at that.”

Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe was not asked his stance at the forum, but he is on record as having supported reducing the amount of farmland that can be owned by foreign entities. He told Brownfield Ag News in an interview earlier this year: “We also want to make sure we don’t make available, for instance, ground if there’s a country that doesn’t allow us to buy ground there, I’m not sure we should allow them to buy ground in our state.”

Kehoe faces Eigel and Ashcroft in the Republican Primary next August.

Copyright 2023, Missourinet.