Missouri’s agriculture industry affects every aspect of our lives, including our economy, our health, and our quality of life. With nearly 100,000 farms and 28 million acres of farmland, we are a proud agricultural state. In fact, nearly 90% of Missouri farms are family-owned.
But today, our farmers face both immediate and long-term challenges. They’re experiencing increasingly unpredictable and extreme weather patterns that disrupt crop yields. And they’re on the receiving end of the scourge of foreign corporations and governments buying up more and more acres of Missouri farmland. Let me be clear: we must do more to protect Missouri farmers. Independent, family-owned farms are the backbone of our great state, and we simply cannot trust Big Ag and foreign governments to take care of our communities.
In the Senate, I’ll stand up for our independent, family-owned farms from day one, and work to finally prohibit the Chinese Communist Party from purchasing American farmland. We can’t keep letting monopolistic corporations and foreign countries put our local farmers out of business. Protecting Missouri farms and their ability to produce healthy, locally-grown food will be my priority.
Missouri’s farming community has long been a backbone of our state and our economy. Our farmers contribute $94 billion a year in economic activity, powering more than 450,000 jobs and strengthening communities from the bootheel on up.
Yet for Eric Schmitt, this critical sector on which hundreds of thousands of Missouri families rely is nothing but a political pawn on which to advance his political career.
Schmitt might talk a good game about protecting Missouri farmers, but he sold them out without a moment’s hesitation when given the opportunity.
In 2013, a Chinese company was seeking to purchase U.S. pork producer Smithfield, which maintains extensive operations in Missouri. However, the sale was being hindered by a longstanding Missouri law that banned the foreign ownership of farmland – protecting our farms and farmers from foreign takeovers.
But then, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, “in what was presented as a coincidence, Missouri legislators — led by recipients of Smithfield Foods’ political donations — pushed through a controversial, last-minute measure to allow” Missouri farmland to be owned by Chinese companies.
Schmitt was one of those lawmakers. At the time, Schmitt had received thousands of dollars in political contributions from Smithfield, plus personal gifts from their top lobbyist. And he knew that spigot of campaign money and personal benefits would be turned off if he didn’t vote their way.
Instead of protecting Missourians, our food supply, and our national security, Schmitt voted to sell us out – twice.
Schmitt got his way – his bill changed the law to allow Chinese companies to take over Missouri farmland. And he benefited – he continued to receive annual gifts from Smithfield, as well as thousands in campaign contributions. But Missourians got hurt.
Thanks to his vote, Smithfield was purchased by a Chinese company, and today China controls more than 146,000 acres of our farms. The deal was even directed by the Chinese Communist Party, with NPR reporting that “the Chinese government does exercise management control” of Smithfield’s parent company.
That’s a major risk to our economy, our national security, and to Missouri families.
Giving China control over our food supply jacks up costs on Missouri families, as the Chinese government puts its interests first. As the Center for Strategic & International Studies has reported, “When the pandemic hit, Smithfield increased pork exports to China even as the United States experienced widespread meat shortages due to supply chain disruptions and Smithfield closed some of its plants due to poor working conditions.” Nearly a decade after Schmitt’s vote, the price of bacon has risen 45 percent since he helped allow China to take over one of our largest employers.
It also threatens our national security. Throughout the country, China has been buying up land near U.S. military bases and other sensitive areas – fueling concerns that their landholdings can be used for spying or economic espionage. Thanks to Schmitt, that can happen right here in Missouri.
And it hurts Missouri families. When Chinese companies – controlled by the Chinese Communist Party – buy up our farmland, it means the profits earned off the backs of the hard labor of our farmers goes not into our communities, but back to China. Smith’s vote made wealthy billionaires connected to the Chinese Communist Party richer, while weakening Missouri towns and families.
It’s long past time to put a stop not only to Eric Schmitt, but to his disastrous sellout of Missouri.
As soon as I get to the United States Senate, the very first bill I introduce will be to partner with Republican Senators Tom Cotton and Tommy Tuberville to join them on their Securing America’s Land from Foreign Interference Act which prohibits the Chinese Communist Party from purchasing American farmland.
We must protect Missouri farmland from being taken over by foreign interests, and ensure that Missouri farmers remain in charge so that our families and communities can grow and be strengthened by the hard work they put into their land.
In Washington, I won’t be swayed by anyone – certainly not by gifts and campaign contributions from Chinese companies – from achieving that goal. I’ll be nobody’s senator but your’s.
Trudy Busch Valentine