Missouri moves to lift ban on foreign farm owners

Jun 18, 2013

Credit Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

A last-minute move by Missouri lawmakers could make it easier for a Chinese conglomerate to buy one of the biggest pork producers in the U.S.

Legislators agreed on their final day of work in May to remove a ban on foreign ownership of agricultural land in Missouri. That change sets a foreign ownership limit at 1 percent of the state's agricultural land, subject to approval by the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

The northern Missouri lawmaker who spearheaded the plan, Republican Rep. Casey Guernsey, says his bill was unrelated to Shuanghui  International Holdings' planned purchase of Smithfield Foods.

That deal was announced on May 29.

A Smithfield spokesperson says the companies don't expect the sale to be hindered by the Missouri law or similar ones in other states.