RURAL ROUTES/Margot Ford McMillen

Lawmakers Outlaw UN But Welcome Agribusiness

The last legislative session, here in Missouri, the Republican “bullet-proof” majority passed 164 bills. Then, Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat, vetoed 29 of them. Then came a record number of overrides. This ping pong politics was partisan at its most villainous and transparent. As usual, good governance and ordinary citizens will pay the price.

The bills that were vetoed included gems like HB 253, a bill that would have cut personal and corporate taxes and, by the way, would leave school systems and police departments even more broke than they already are. Then there was HB 329, which would have allowed even larger fees on poor people from the Payday Loan crowd. This morally indefensible industry has set up offices in every little town in our state. There are ten of these “cash advance” businesses in our county seat, population about 10,000.

Just as repugnant, it was HB 436, and it drew national attention. That was state Rep. Douglas Funderburk’s bill that “all past, present, or future federal acts, laws, orders, rules, or regulations that infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms” are “invalid, will not be recognized, are specifically rejected, and will be considered null and void and of no effect in this state.” This thinly veiled tribute to the NRA also endorsed the idea of “school protection officers” carrying concealed weapons. Fortunately, the General Assembly decided that bill was too wide and broad to work in the real world and didn’t override the governor’s veto.

As a salute to Glenn Beck fans worried about the international agenda, there was SB 265, state Sen. Brian Nieves’ legislation banning “any policy recommendations that infringe on private property rights without due process” or law enforcement agencies helping “any organization accredited and enlisted by the United Nations to assist in the implementation of Agenda 21.” Nieves also introduced SB 267, asserting that regulations aren’t enforceable if based on a foreign law “repugnant or inconsistent with the Missouri and United States constitutions.”

So, you’d think that our General Assembly is against foreigners. But slipping under the radar was Senate Bill 9, a wide and broad agricultural bill that (by the way) changes animal ownership laws and, most important, changes the state’s ban on foreign ownership of farmland. SB 9 was passed by the Missouri General Assembly, then vetoed by the governor, then made law when the G.A. overrode the veto. Note, dear reader, that ownership by American corporations is still illegal.

Coming just a few days after the US Committee on Foreign Investment approved the sale of Smithfield Foods to Shuanghui International Holdings, the new law allows Shuanghui to own not only the business but the Missouri land owned by Smithfield. According to the website New American, a John Bircher sort of group, Shuanghui is a Chinese company controlled by China’s communist government, perhaps making this purchase the first takeover of American land by a foreign government.

The media has portrayed the Smithfield sale as a normal, but unfortunate, sale of American assets to a foreign investor, much the same as the sale of The King of Beers to a Belgian firm. They spin the sale as if Shuanghi International is a private corporation, owned by entrepreneurs. But New American asks, what does private enterprise mean in China?

New American lets us know that Wikipedia calls the firm “private with public subsidiary, in its English version. It lists the founding year as 1958, which was the year of China’s “great leap forward,” a Communist milestone. As New American states, “In 1958 there were absolutely no traces of private or free enterprise in mainland Communist China, especially in the local city governments.” In the Chinese version, they say, the company is identified as “國有企業,” which is translated as “State-owned enterprises” by Bing, Microsoft’s translator.

Whether or not you believe the assertions in New American, and their web page goes on to investigate the party affiliation of Company President Wan Long and the Central Spiritual Civilization Steering Committee of the Communist Party of China, the dilemma for Missouri’s Republican representatives is clear. Their votes cleared the path for corporations of any kind, with any agenda, to move into the state and take ownership, when ownership by American corporations is still illegal.

With the Smithfield buyout, Missouri will see more Confined Animal Feeding Operations, more pollution, more export of our good resources, and no benefits to the state. Northwest Missouri, where the Smithfield properties are located, will see yet another wave of underpaid, underserved labor that depend on public services and the kindness of good citizens to get through life. Their hospitals, schools and other services have long served populations working in the hog plants, from latinos to hmong to American welfare moms.

Why should Republicans worry about Agenda 21 when their elected representatives are perfectly happy to roll over and play dead for a corporate takeover that puts our very land base in the hands of foreign governments? The mind reels, and if that’s not enough to make you spend your pork dollars with a neighbor, a local yokel you can look in the eye, well, there’s no telling what you’ll do next.

Margot Ford McMillen farms and teaches English at a college in Fulton, Mo. She blogs at Email: 

From The Progressive Populist, October 15, 2013

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