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Missouri lawmakers want to restrict foreign corporations from owning too much farmland

Amy Mayer
Harvest Public Media file photo
Foreign farmland ownership was a big issue in this year's U.S. Senate race in Missouri between Eric Schmitt and Trudy Busch Valentine.

Missouri legislators on both sides of the aisle are filing bills that would take steps to restrict ownership of the state's farmland by foreign corporations.

Missouri lawmakers voted at the end of the 2013 legislative session to allow foreign ownership of 1% of its farmland. A decade later, there is a bipartisan push in Jefferson City to change that.

The federal government estimates that Missouri has already surpassed that 1% threshold. Tim Gibbons of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center says farmers in rural Missouri are fed up with foreign corporations "extracting wealth from our rural communities."

"We need to create policies that support farmers staying on the land, not only for a decentralized and more democratically-controlled food system, but for a true representative democracy," says Gibbons. "If we have wealth and land and our food supply controlled in just a few hands, then it's really hard for (rural farmers) to have representation."

State Sen.-elect Rusty Black, a Republican from Chillicothe, is one of the state lawmakers pre-filing a bill to address this issue. While his proposal would not restrict foreign individuals from owning farmland, it would heavily restrict foreign corporations.

He feels there is a good chance one of these bills will pass.

"I'm over 50% sure that there's enough interest, as I listen to both Republicans and Democrats, to try to pass this legislation," Black says.

Gibbons and Black joined KCUR's Up To Date to talk about this issue and what the General Assembly is trying to do about it.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
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