Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed two bills that would have cleared the way for foreign ownership of farmland and potentially complicating the planned acquisition of Smithfield Foods by Chinese company Shuanghui International.
Nixon vetoes state Senate Bill 9, which contained a provision that would have struck down the existing ban on foreign ownership of sgricultural land, reports Reuters. The provision would have allowed non-U.S. businesses to own up to a total of 1 percent of Missouri’s agricultural land, or about 300,000 acres. The provision had been inserted as an amendment to the larger omnibus agriculture bill after it had already been rejected by a legislative committee and was opposed by leading agricultural groups, Nixon's office said in a statement.
"Not only was this provision inserted into the bill without a public hearing, it was done so after the provision was rejected by at least one legislative committee on agriculture, as well as publicly opposed by leading Missouri agricultural groups," Nixon said.
The governor also vetoed Senate Bill 342, which also would have allowed foreign ownership of farmland.
The laws are potential complications to the proposed acquisition of Smithfield, the world's largest pork processor, by Shuanghui International Holdings, China's leading pork producer. The deal, valued at $7.1 billion including debt, would be the biggest takeover of a U.S. company by a Chinese company.
"Smithfield Foods and Shuanghui International identified this issue during their discussions and it presents no obstacles to closing the proposed combination," Smithfield said in a statement. "We intend to consult and work closely with appropriate state officials on this matter as needed after the closing."
Shuanghui declined to comment.