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Foreign Powers Are Buying Up American Land-- Lucas Kunce Explains Why This Is A Problem In Missouri



Democratic election committees, like the DCCC and DSCC, have a tendency to write off rural voters-- with a condescending offer, "let them eat broadband"-- and just concentrate on suburbs instead. That "strategy" has been catastrophic-- for the party and the country-- as we saw once again earlier this month in Virginia. Bernie, who represents one of the most rural states in America, didn't do anything like that in his campaigns... which helps explain why he won enormous victories in the 2016 primaries against Hillary, the personification of the Democrats' approach to rural America. It's worth reading Bernie's rural platform and keeping in mind that there were rural counties across the country where he didn't just beat Hillary, but pulled in more votes than Trump! Let's look at this most rural counties (100% rural) in a bunch of states:

West Virginia

  • Webster Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 54.0% to 24.8% and had more votes than Trump

  • Clay Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 51.0% to 29.4% and had more votes than Trump

  • Calhoun Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 60.6% to 23.6% and had more votes than Trump

California

  • Alpine Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 53.5% to 45.6% and had more votes than Trump

  • Sierra Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 55.8% to 43.2%

  • Trinity Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 60.8% to 37.3%

Kentucky

  • Hickman Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 46.6% to 32.5% and had more votes than Trump

  • Robertson Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 59.6% to 32.0% and had more votes than Trump

  • Carlisle Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 57.5% to 25.6% and had more votes than Trump

Illinois

  • Pope Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 60.1% to 37.2%

  • Gallatin Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 50.4% to 40.3% and had more votes than Trump

  • Stark Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 51.4% to 47.1% and had more votes than Trump

Michigan

  • Keweenaw Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 58.4% to 39.8% and had more votes than Trump

  • Baraga Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 55.5% to 40.4%

  • Oscoda Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 51.8% to 44.9%

Montana

  • Garfield Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 50.0% to 26.5%

  • Carter Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 55.3% to 44.7%

  • Powder River Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 58.6% to 41.4%

New York

  • Hamilton Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 63.1% to 36.9%

  • Lewis Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 59.1% to 40.9%

  • Essex Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 73.2% to 26.8% and had more votes than Trump

Wisconsin

  • Bayfield Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 63.5% to 36.2% and had more votes than Trump

  • Menominee Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 63.3% to 36.4% and had more votes than Trump

  • Buffalo Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 57.8% to 41.5% and had more votes than Trump

Missouri

  • Worth Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 53.5% to 41.5%

  • Scotland Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 54.7% to 44.1%

  • Atchison Co.- Bernie beat Hillary 54.6% to 44.5% and had more votes than Trump

So, speaking of Missouri... yesterday, Lucas Kunce, the progressive populist running for the open Senate seat in Missouri is very much talking to rural voters, not just voters in St Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, Independence and Columbia.


Below is a good example of what Lucas has to say to rural voters-- aside from raising the minimum wage and making sure everyone has medical care. This OpEd, Foreign Farmland Ownership Violates U.S. Sovereignty And Security, was published by the Springfield News-Leader yesterday and was widely read in Greene, Christian, Lawrence, Dade, Polk, Dallas, Webster, Taney, Ozark, Douglas, Barry and Stone counties, spread out over the rural southwest part of the state. Please read it through and consider clicking on the 2022 Senate thermometer below and contributing what you can to Lucas' campaign


"Aiding and abetting a foreign enemy," wrote the former Marine, turned anti-trust expert, "is treason. So when a bunch of corporate-backed Missouri politicians passed a bill that greenlit a Chinese invasion of Missouri farmland, we should call it what it is."


Recently, on a farm in Palmyra owned by a family who has been farming Marion County for four generations, a crowd of independent farmers talked to me about getting backstabbed by their politicians.
In March of 2013, the executives of Smithfield, a family-farm-killing agricultural monopoly and the state’s biggest pork producer, began plotting with Chinese officials to sell the company and its 40,000 acres of Missouri farmland to China.
There was just one pesky problem: Missouri, where a large portion of Smithfield’s operations were located, had a law on the books prohibiting the ownership of agricultural land by foreign entities.
So Smithfield did what corporate America does when it needs to break the law-- buy off the politicians to change it. Smithfield was already a huge political player, well versed in lobbying and lining the pockets of politicians here in Missouri and across the country. When Smithfield told them to jump, our politicians didn’t ask why, they asked how high.
Just two months later, Missouri Democrats and Republicans voted to let foreign countries buy up Missouri farmland. Within two weeks, Smithfield announced the deal: a Chinese multinational corporation would purchase Smithfield for $4.27 billion and take control of its 40,000 acres of Missouri farmland in the “largest Chinese takeover of a U.S. company” up to that point. In the U.S. Congress, politicians kept taking checks from Smithfield’s corporate PAC and looked the other way as China settled our land and disrupted our food supply chain.
So Smithfield did what corporate America does when it needs to break the law-- buy off the politicians to change it. Smithfield was already a huge political player, well versed in lobbying and lining the pockets of politicians here in Missouri and across the country. When Smithfield told them to jump, our politicians didn’t ask why, they asked how high.
Just two months later, Missouri Democrats and Republicans voted to let foreign countries buy up Missouri farmland. Within two weeks, Smithfield announced the deal: a Chinese multinational corporation would purchase Smithfield for $4.27 billion and take control of its 40,000 acres of Missouri farmland in the “largest Chinese takeover of a U.S. company” up to that point. In the U.S. Congress, politicians kept taking checks from Smithfield’s corporate PAC and looked the other way as China settled our land and disrupted our food supply chain.
We should all be furious. This is a national security threat. Around the time this deal went down in 2013, I was a U.S. Marine serving in Afghanistan. Coming home from my three deployments, I saw how our state had been stripped for parts by corporate monopolies buying off our political elite. Smithfield was the largest campaign donor to the guy who wrote the bill that helped sell our land. Today, tens of thousands of acres of Missouri farmland are owned by foreign conglomerates. Smithfield (China) and JBS (Brazil) now control 50 percent of U.S. pork. Big Ag has put 90 percent of Missouri hog producers out of business. And just three companies dominate the seed industry, including Bayer (Germany) and ChemChina. All thanks to a feckless political class that doesn’t give a damn about the people they are supposed to serve.
I met with those farmers in Palmyra to hash out a plan, to hear directly from them what we need to do to get our land back. I told them I wasn’t taking a single penny from corporate PACs. I’m taking my marching orders from actual working people in Missouri. Here’s what we came up with.
As senator, I will introduce legislation at the federal level that will not only ban foreign ownership of American agricultural land but also force the sale of any farmland currently owned by foreign entities back into the hands of American farmers. The legislation would also guarantee that land goes to real American farmers, not Big Ag.
This is about restoring working people to power, putting the family farmer back in a position to run their farms the way they want to and not be beholden to foreign-backed agricultural monopolies that pillage our land. Family farmers aren’t looking for a handout-- they are for competition, a fair playing field that every politician should be invested in creating, sustaining and growing.
It’s time we take our land back from China. And it’s time we take America back from treasonous politicians who strip our communities for parts.

Glenn Hurst, the progressive running for the Iowa Senate seat held by Chuck Grassley, has a similar perspective. "Iowa," he told me, "has been an example for limiting foreign ownership of agricultural land. However, the almighty dollar is the prime motivator of those who hold the current trifecta of a Republican controlled House, Senate, and governor's office in Iowa. Smithfield is well positioned to exert influence on these legislators. Their current positions in Iowa food production would be complimented by the ownership of the farmland as well. In a state where we are already seeing record high prices per acre of farmland, foreign competition for land would drive prices even higher. The possibility of a independent farmer expanding their operation or a new entry into farming will become near impossible."


"The threat of land passing to foreign ownership," he continued, "is not only an agricultural concern in Iowa, our expansive landscape is also a rich source of opportunity for clean, renewable, fuel production. This added revenue and value to the land for solar and wind energy is essential for local landowners. It would be an opportunity to choke off our ability to self sustain if a foreign land owner did not choose to participate. This would be a far more valuable move for a country that did not wish to see the United States thrive and achieve energy independence. If Chinese interests extend to the U.S. with regards to their food supply, you can be certain they are also extended in other countries where labor, regulation, land prices are even more attractive. Wise U.S. federal policy would not just address ownership of land in the United States but would also discourage foreign leverage with our strategic allies. So not only should we restrict the ownership of land in our country by foreign corporations, but we could restrict the import of products from countries where the product was produced by a corporation foreign to that soil which, owns large portions of the land in the exporting country. Our perspective must be broad. We must envision all possible ramifications of our policies. Clearly that did not happen in Missouri. If it did, I would question their legislators' patriotism."



UPDATE: Progressive Senate Candidate Erica Smith

Erica was raised in a rural northeast North Carolina county that she represented in the state legislature. She still lives on the same unpaved road today-- and still has to drive over an hour to get reliable broadband. This morning she told me that "Duplin County, North Carolina produces more hogs than any county in the United States. Pigs outnumber humans 30-1. I had a town hall in Duplin County during our 100-county tour, and after my stump I asked if there were any questions. A woman stood up and said she lived a mile from a CAFO owned by Smithfield, and her community is besieged by pig waste. It’s everywhere, she said, the stench is the air, it leaks into the water supply, and it’s making her neighbors sick. She worded the injustice perfectly: 'China gets the pig, we get the shit. What are you going to do about it?' China buys hog farms in the United States because it’s much cheaper to raise a hog here than it is in China. People are often surprised when I tell them that. It’s especially cheaper in red states, like Missouri and North Carolina, because our state legislatures refuse to regulate Big Ag’s environmental and labor malpractices. So I agree with Lucas Kunce: corrupt Republicans have done everything in their power to make the our states ideal settings for foreign corporations to offshore dangerous and environmentally destructive industries."


"I grew up on a family farm that raised hogs," she continued. "We raised them sustainably and we sold them to our neighbors in the community. It doesn't have to be like this. We need to combat the efforts of Republican state legislatures on a federal level. I am with Lucas: we should ban foreign ownership of American agricultural land. We also need a Green New Deal for Farmers, a comprehensive investment in family farms; in their environmental and economic future."

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