Several Missouri Republican lawmakers made it a priority this legislative session to pass restrictions on foreign ownership of farmland, but time is running out. When the clock strikes 6 p.m. this Friday, the state Legislature’s session ends.

Like many bills, the foreign farmland restrictions may go down in flames in the Senate, where work has been slow this final week and this session. Democrats are blocking a vote on a proposal to toughen citizen-led ballot initiatives.

One version of proposed foreign farmland ownership restrictions was included in a military-friendly package. The legislature recently passed Senate Bill 912, but Rep. Dave Griffith, who chairs the House Veterans Committee, removed the provision about foreign farmland restrictions.

“I can take responsibility for that because I said, ‘If that’s in there, I’m not going to hear it in my committee.’ But in conversations that I’ve had, I was told that if I changed the bill, it would kill the bill. But if I withdrew it completely off of there, it would leave it alone. I think it comes a point in time when you got to take somebody’s word for something and I took the word,” Griffith told Missourinet. “So we did, and sure enough, it was left alone.”

Leaving the provision in there could have presented a court challenge over Missouri’s bill restrictions on single subjects.

“I think that it just didn’t make sense to have that in there. I think cooler heads prevailed at the end of the day. There’s a place for that bill but it wasn’t in a veterans bill,” said Griffith, R-Jefferson City.

Current Missouri law allows up to 1% of farmland in the state to be owned by a foreign party.

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