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Letters to the editor

Oklahoma legislator disagrees with Root

While I respect Ken Root’s view on the Ukraine/Russian crisis, I do disagree with some of what he says. I grew up in an agricultural family and am currently involved with ranching and farming in Oklahoma. My dad was a World War II veteran and was very interested in world affairs. I believe it to be here that I developed my interest in foreign affairs and military history, even as a grade school kid in the early 1970s. I remember the Cold War and the grain embargo and how the agriculture community was hurt.

I have served as a state representative for eight years now. During this time I have had the opportunity to make many contacts including diplomats from several countries, such as Russia and Georgia, as well as colonels, generals, joint chiefs and multiple others. This being said, I am familiar with the dynamics at play in the current situation.

First, this situation is most likely a result of a weak foreign policy by the United States. At this point, I believe it is going to be hard to repair. Leaders see the debacles of the Barack Obama administration such as in Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya and Syria as serious weakness if not total incompetence.

Second, Putin is a former KGB officer from the old Soviet Union days. He wants Russia to be great again, and I do not fault him for this. I think every leader should desire that their country be great, but taking over other countries is not the way. I realize that the Crimea used to be part of Russia until 1954, when it was given to the Ukraine by Khrushchev, which at the time meant little because it was still part of the Soviet Union. However, again taking it over by military force is not the way to accomplish this. This move isn’t any different than what Russia did at the beginning of World War II. On Sept. 1, 1939, Germany attacked Poland. Only a few weeks later Russia attacked Poland from the East. Britain and France declared war on Germany, but not on Russia. Russia saw this as weakness. The United States refused to enter and Britain and France were afraid to take on both powers. A month later, in October of 1939, Russia told Finland that they wanted some Finland land as well. Finland refused and Russia chose to take the land by force. Once again, Finland desired help from Britain and France, but they were afraid to go in alone. This once again showed weakness and the Russians took Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

In 2008 Russia began a feud with Georgia. There is no way that Georgia can go toe to toe with Russia. So what caused this? Georgia wanted to become part of NATO The Russians did not like this, so they started to go into Georgia. A friend of mine from Georgia was forced to flee to the mountains with her family. The only reason Russia stopped was because the United States had strong foreign policy under the leadership of President Bush. They saw that the United States was willing to chase the terrorists down and do what was necessary to protect ourselves and others. There continue to be terrorists out there, I believe there always will be, but that does not mean we shouldn’t try to stop them at every turn. When Bush was President we didn’t have any more attacks on sovereign United States soil. My contacts in the military said that the terrorists were running scared. Now, however, they say otherwise. Since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks oil companies have ramped up oil and gas exploration despite efforts to slow it down by the current administration.

This being said, most of us do not want to go to war. I have friends who are Russian and they do not want to go to war, and I do not either. However, there are times when all other options have been exhausted and we must flex our military muscle. We must try to keep Russia from reforming the Soviet Union by taking countries by force, as they are currently attempting to do in the Ukraine. I know that the grain embargo is not the way to go about it; however, if we do not find another way we will be in a new arms race and another cold war that could go hot at any moment.

—John Enns, Oklahoma State Representative, District 41

Missouri Farm Bureau supports prohibiting foreign ownership of state's farmland

In the 1970s, Missouri and several other states adopted laws prohibiting the ownership of farmland by foreign entities. These laws were prompted by concerns that increasing foreign investment in American farmland could compromise our national security and domestic food production capabilities. Missouri’s prohibition did not apply to farmland used for non-farming purposes and foreign owners who became “bona fide” residents of the United States.

Missouri Farm Bureau has had longstanding policy adopted by members supporting the state’s prohibition on foreign ownership of Missouri farmland. However, last year a provision enacted into law as part of a larger bill amended Missouri’s prohibition to allow foreign ownership of up to 1 percent of Missouri farmland.

One percent might not seem like much, but it is significant given the current worldwide interest in snatching up productive land.

Globally many foreign interests are in the market for farmland and agricultural businesses. Countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and South Korea that have financial resources but lack productive land are actively seeking farmland and agricultural facilities. Last year’s acquisition of global pork producer Smithfield Foods by Shuanghui International set a record for the largest buyout of an American company by a Chinese company. This transaction involved assets in more than a dozen states, including an estimated 50,000 acres of Missouri farmland.

Farmland is one of our nation’s most precious resources, and total farmed acreage is declining. The USDA’s 2012 Ag Census revealed that since 2007 Missouri has lost 3 percent of its farmland. This trend combined with growing global demand magnifies the need to vigilantly protect this resource for future generations.

Missouri’s law prohibiting foreign ownership of farmland must be reinstated without delay. Missouri Farm Bureau is working this legislative session to reinstate the prohibition of foreign ownership of farmland in Missouri. As proposed, new foreign ownership after enactment of the bill would be prohibited.

—Leslie Holloway, Jefferson City, Mo., director of state and local government affairs for the Missouri Farm Bureau


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