Missouri House passes foreign ag land ownership bill

The Missouri House has passed a bill that could make several changes to the state’s foreign ag land ownership law.

House Bill 903 does not allow a foreign citizen or business to purchase ag land if the purchase exceeds one-half of one percent of the total aggregate ag land in the state. The Missouri Department of Agriculture would no longer be responsible for approving the sale or transfer of ag land by foreign ownership. Instead, the Missouri Attorney General and Missouri Secretary of State would oversee the process and be required to respond to foreign entities within 30 days.  Those changes would go into effect August 28. 

Bill sponsor and chairman of the Missouri House Ag Committee Mike Haffner tells Brownfield the bill protects existing relationships with foreign-owned ag companies already in the state.

“We cannot go back and divest a company’s interest to what’s been passed previously by statute.”

Haffner says the second half of the bill addresses national security interests.

“We have listed five restricted countries: China, Russia, Iran, North Korea and Venezuala. They are completely prevented from owning any land across the state of Missouri.”

He says the countries on this list can change by a legislative process, which must be started by the governor. The bill now moves to the Missouri Senate to be reviewed by a special committee.

The Senate Select Committee on Protection of Missouri Assets from Foreign Adversaries was formed in February. Foreign ag land ownership now falls under this committee’s umbrella and the foreign ag land ownership bills that started in the Senate Ag Committee will also be reviewed by this special committee.

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