(The Center Square) – If Missourians sell farmland within 10 miles of a military facility in the state, the buyer must be approved by the state Department of Agriculture to prevent ownership by any country designated as a foreign adversary by the U.S. Department of State.
Republican Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced the change by Executive Order 24-01 on Tuesday in Jefferson City. Missouri law currently limits the total aggregate amount of agricultural land by foreign ownership to 1% of the total amount of agricultural land in the state. State law defines a military facility as “any place under temporary or primary control of the militia which is devoted to military duty, including any campground, parade ground, exercise field, armory, fort, compound, training sites or military base.”
According to a map of Missouri National Guard staffed bases provided by the governor’s office, a 10-mile buffer around those areas total more than 10 million acres. The document states Missouri is 44.6 million acres.
“This is as far as an executive authority goes under the current law of the state,” Parson said during a press conference. “Believe me, if I had the authority, we wouldn’t just be talking about banning farmland but all commercial properties by foreign adversaries regardless of rural or urban. Because a commercial building in our urban areas in the hands of adversaries poses just as much, if not more, of a threat to our security interests than a rural farm.”
Parson acknowledged past legislative efforts to limit farmland owned by China and other adversaries and emphasized the economic impact of foreign-owned businesses throughout the state.
“If we start banning every purchase of farmland by any foreign individual or business, than where does this end?” Parson asked.
During the last five years, foreign-owned businesses invested approximately $19 billion and employ approximately 150,000 Missourians, Parson said. The first nation he mentioned as an ally and not a risk to security was Israel. He also said Sweden, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada and Japan have hundreds of facilities in the state.
“We must ensure we are not disrupting Missouri’s economy or Missourians’ lives,” Parson said.
Last month, Parson asked the Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System board to withdraw investments in China after the board overruled the proposal by Republican Treasure Vivek Malek during a November meeting. On Tuesday, Parson said his order was needed in light of campaigning by legislators running for statewide office or re-election in the months ahead.
“It’s not my place to tell the General Assembly what to do, nor would that probably be a good strategy on my part if I tried to do that,” Parson said. “I think I would recommend is somebody has to get at the table with some common sense and be able to make proposals for what is best for the state of Missouri. … Right now, this is a placeholder.”