It’s in the best interest for Missouri farmers and consumers to fight against the corporatization of our food system. Missouri farmers have been under siege by the corporatization of food system led by out-of-state and foreign industrial agriculture companies.

In 2013, our state legislature opened up 289,000 acres of Missouri farmland for foreign corporate ownership. This major change was quietly added to a large omnibus bill at the end of the 2013 legislative session. Two weeks later, Smithfield Foods was purchased by a large Chinese meatpacker (now known as WH Group) and instantly acquired over 42,000 acres of Missouri farmland.

A loophole was then added in 2015 that opened up Missouri to virtually unlimited foreign corporate ownership of Missouri farmland. This is unacceptable and must be stopped.

Rep. Doug Beck (D-St. Louis) has offered House Bill 1492, which would correct this and halt any future foreign corporate ownership of Missouri farmland. Our farmland is a finite and precious resource that should not be controlled by foreign corporate interests as this jeopardizes both our food security and national security.

I’m calling on Gov. Mike Parson, my state senator, Caleb Rowden, and our Columbia area state representatives to support this legislation that keeps our farmland available for domestic food production.

As a constituent, you can encourage your representative to vote for this bill. You can also become more involved in the choices you make by asking stores and restaurants where they get their meat and supporting groups such as the Missouri Rural Crisis Center and Patchwork Family Farms.

Dan Murphy lives in Columbia.

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