JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri House Agriculture Committee today passed HCS HB 903, a critical national security bill sponsored by Representative Mike Haffner (R-Pleasant Hill), that protects fair competition and limits foreign ownership of Missouri farmland by defined enemies of the United States of America.
“This legislation puts Missouri and Missourians first by balancing the concept of protecting important investments in our state and protecting our national security interests from our enemies,” said Rep. Haffner, a former Naval Aviator and combat veteran. “This commonsense bill will continue to allow our allies access and opportunities to participate in our economically diverse free market global system, while strongly limiting the access of our enemies.”
HCS HB 903 limits foreign ownership of Missouri farmland to ½ of 1%, from the current restriction in statute of 1%. Furthermore, HCS HB 903 requires foreign entities to report sales, acquisitions, or transfers of land to the Missouri Attorney General and Secretary of State. The legislation requires a report at the sale or transfer of land, every five years thereafter, or if the use of the land changes.
The bill also provides statutory authority to the Missouri Attorney General to investigate acquisitions of agricultural land if there are any violations of the bill’s provisions, with any violation subject to divestiture under the current statute.
In the bill, “Restrictive Country” is defined as China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela, and restricts those countries’ ownership of any land in Missouri.
The companion Senate bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jason Bean (R-Peach Orchard) said, “The work of Missouri farmers helps feed the world. As a lifelong farmer, I understand the importance of protecting markets for Missouri agriculture and value the hard work of our agriculture groups to develop these markets. I will always work to protect Missouri farmers and our proud heritage. This commonsense bill serves dual purposes by protecting production and promoting a safe and secure America. Our food security is our national security.”
The passage of this bill comes at a time in which many Missourians and many lawmakers feel as if Missouri farmland is at risk of being sold to “Restrictive Countries”.
Many high-ranking officials such as Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe, Attorney General Andrew Bailey, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, and Missouri House Speaker Dean Plocher have all expressed their need and support for this bill.
“Missouri is an international leader in multiple industries from aerospace to agriculture research, and the defense of our sovereignty, economy, and institutions depends on this commonsense legislation to protect Missouri companies by promoting the economic security of the United States,” said Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe. “With this bill, Missouri will hold the countries accountable who seek to economically harm the United States, our companies, and our citizens.”
HCS HB 903 does not require any automatic divestitures of land investments by United States’ allies, thus preventing any negative impact on the free-market system, nor significant reductions in the value of Missourians’ investments in these entities. HCS HB 903 requires one more vote in the House Rules Committee before moving on to debate and the full House for consideration.
“Providing the ability for our office to seek justice on behalf of Missourians and also hold our enemies accountable is as critical today as it has ever been. For generations, Americans have fought to uphold our values and protect our national security interests,” said Attorney General Andrew Bailey, an Army combat veteran who served in the War on Terror. “This includes preserving our freedoms and the freedom for our allies to participate and compete in our free market system which is the envy of the free world, and this bill does both.”
Brady Hays is a 2023 graduate of the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in History. He is currently attending the University of Missouri School of Law and is on pace to graduate with his JD in 2026. He has been working for the Missouri Times since early March 0f 2022.