At both the state and national levels, foreign corporate ownership of our U.S. farmland is a growing and serious problem.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has not been monitoring or enforcing a federal law requiring foreign investors to report all transactions of U.S. farmland. Foreign corporations are buying a lot of U.S. farm and food corporations, and they want more.

For example, the WH Group, China’s biggest meatpacker, bought Smithfield Foods, which controls 25% of the U.S. pork supply; JBS, a Brazilian corporation and the biggest meatpacker in the world, bought Cargill Pork in 2017; ChemChina bought Syngenta; and then Bayer, a German corporation, bought Monsanto.

Why is this important now? Because some people we will be voting on in November helped this happen. In the 2013 legislative session, the Missouri legislature passed a bill that allowed 289,000 acres of Missouri farmland to be owned by foreign corporations. Less than a month later, Smithfield was purchased by China’s biggest meatpacker and was able to acquire more than 40,000 acres of Missouri farmland. I am sure Smithfield’s lobbyist got a raise for that one.

Gov. Mike Parson (then Sen. Parson) and Sen. (then representative) Caleb Rowden both voted to allow foreign corporations to buy Missouri farmland.

This won’t stop unless we do something about it. We need representation for Missouri residents, not representation for corporate foreign agri-business.

Shirley Kidwell is a Columbia resident.

About opinions in the Missourian: The Missourian’s Opinion section is a public forum for the discussion of ideas. The views presented in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Missourian or the University of Missouri. If you would like to contribute to the Opinion page with a response or an original topic of your own, visit our submission form.