Trudy Busch Valentine: Standing up to China to protect our land

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When I look back on my life, I can honestly say I never thought about running for the U.S. Senate. But there are many reasons why I felt compelled to get off the sidelines and why I am proud to be in this race, including defending our democracy, giving people the freedom to make their own health care decisions, getting corporate money out of politics, and protecting our farmlands from foreign ownership.

As I travel across Missouri meeting with voters, one of my favorite things to do is visit local farms. Having owned a Missouri farm for more than 30 years, farms are where I feel most at peace. I love talking with Missouri farmers, touring their land and learning about their way of life. Every farmer I have met is a proud one, rooted in strong values and a commitment to hard work.

But these conversations have also made one thing clear — Missouri’s agricultural community is facing a serious threat. And whether you live in an urban, suburban or rural area, this affects all of us because it threatens our national security and food security.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we’ve seen foreign ownership and investment in American farmland nearly double in 10 years. In fact, the USDA reported most recently that foreign entities held interests in nearly 40 million acres of U.S. farmland, with Communist China among them.

There are states that have cracked down on foreign ownership, but not Missouri. In fact, in recent years, Missouri lawmakers have made it easier for foreign countries like Communist China to buy our farmland and push out independent, family farmers, who are the heart of our state’s agricultural industry — an industry that contributes $94 billion to the American economy each year.

My opponent cast the deciding vote to lift a ban on foreign ownership of Missouri farmland. Now, nearly 400,000 acres of land in our state are owned by foreign interests, including Communist China. This stacks the deck against our family farmers and makes it harder for them to compete, support their families, and provide quality food. And there’s nothing stopping Communist China from coming for more Missouri land.

As we all experienced with the international supply chain crisis, having an affordable, reliable food supply is critical to the well-being of all Americans. I’m a nurse, mother and grandmother. I understand how important it is for us to have access to quality and fresh produce, meat, and grains. But when we let multinational corporations buy our farmlands and dominate the market, they set the agenda. They control the supply and dictate the prices we pay, leaving us extraordinarily vulnerable when it matters most.

And when you consider the current average age of an American farmer is around 60, this problem can only get worse with millions of acres of farmland on the verge of changing hands. We deserve nothing less than a full accounting of all foreign interests in Missouri — and American — farmlands. It is imperative we know exactly what countries like Communist China are doing here, what their strategic interests are, and the potential impacts on our state, country and economy.

In the U.S. Senate, I will always stand with Missouri farmers. The first bill I will introduce will be a ban on the sale of American farmland to foreign countries, joining a growing number of bipartisan lawmakers who support this action. I will also advocate for Missouri farmers in the next Farm Bill and fight to make sure our tax dollars are supporting local, independent farmers and not foreign conglomerates.

I’m a proud fourth-generation Missourian who loves this state, and I will always prioritize our farmers over Chinese government profits. Together, let’s stand up for our family farmers, protect our food, land and national security, and make sure Missouri farms belong to Missourians for generations to come.

Trudy Busch Valentine is the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Missouri.

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