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Former Rep. Michael Pappas. (Photo: Mike Pappas).

Pappas challenges Zwicker to support Steinhardt farmland bill

Legislation would ban foreign governments, individuals from owning agricultural land

By Joey Fox, February 01 2023 10:53 am

Former U.S. Rep. Michael Pappas (R-Branchburg), now running for the legislature against State Sen. Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick), yesterday endorsed legislation barring foreign governments and individuals from owning New Jersey farmland and challenged Zwicker to do the same.

“This proposed legislation is a solid effort to protect our state and nation’s food supply,” Pappas said in a statement. “I call upon Senator Andrew Zwicker to become a co-sponsor of Senator Steinhardt’s legislation. The 16th district is fortunate to have numerous active farms and prime agricultural land that deserve to be recognized and protected.”

So far the bill, which was introduced by new State Sen. Doug Steinhardt (R-Lopatcong), has drawn only Republican sponsors. It’s unlikely that Zwicker, or any Democrat, would agree to the legislation in its current form, especially its provision that “foreign persons” – including legal immigrants – be barred from owning farmland.

But Pappas’ challenge is a sign that he views the issue as potentially potent in the 16th district, which includes a substantial rural population in Hunterdon and Somerset Counties. Pappas already ran for the district once before, losing to Zwicker in 2021 by a 53%-47% margin.

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