Confusion surrounds MO Constitutional Amendment 1. I have had many ask how they should vote. I believe you should inform yourself and then make the decision on how to vote. I definitely have an opinion but I want to share just the facts with you first. Next Tuesday, one short week away, voters in Missouri will have the opportunity to cast their votes on Constitutional Amendment 1 – MO Right to Farm. If approved by voters, the measure would explicitly guarantee farmers and ranchers the right to engage in their livelihoods and produce food for others. The fair ballot language states “A “yes” vote will amend the Missouri Constitution to guarantee the rights of Missourians to engage in farming and ranching practices, subject to any power given to local government under Article VI of the Missouri Constitution. If approved, this amendment will add a section 35 to Article I of the MO Constitution. The new section would read as follows: That Agriculture which provides food, energy, health benefits, and security is the foundation and stabilizing force of Missouri’s economy. To protect this vital sector of Missouri’s economy, the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state, subject to duly authorized powers, if any, conferred by article VI of the Constitution of Missouri.
There is no wording that singles out family farms vs corporate farms. No wording about American owned vs foreign owned farms. Nothing about organic farms vs non-organic, big farms vs small farms. Why? Because in Missouri, agriculture is as diverse as our population. We have farmers who only produce vegetables while others only produce sheep. We have farmers who raise wheat and others who raise turkeys. Some use GMO’s and some raise organic, non GMO’s. Some of us have incorporated our farms for tax and liability purposes and some of us don’t. One important thing we have in common is that most all farms are family farms. Often several generations work together to produce food products that end up in your grocery cart, fuel that ends up in your car or truck, medicine that your doctor prescribes and leather that becomes shoes, purses and clothing for your family.
In October of 2013, Brent Haden, an attorney in Columbia, noted that fewer people are directly connected to farms and ranching than in the past. He claimed that this has made agriculture vulnerable to attacks from well-funded outside groups that push misinformation on the public to pass burdensome and expensive regulations.
The League of Women Voters, in their nonpartisan voter’s guide, argued in favor of Amendment 1. “Proponents say farmers need protection from regulations promoted by outside “environmental extremists” and animal rights groups. They say Missouri growers and ranchers are knowledgeable about proper farming practices. They argue that the amendment would save jobs and protect small and family farmers who can’t afford to mount legal challenges or relocate their farms.”
Representative Jeanne Kirkton (Democrat from District 91) pointed out that the amendment will help ensure our food supply remains plentiful and inexpensive, will protect small family farms and large-scale agriculture operations equally, and that it only protects farmers and ranchers against unreasonable regulations and restrictions and doesn’t give them a blank check to so whatever they want or prohibit the enactment of reasonable laws relating to agriculture.
Most producer groups have joined forces to support this amendment along with a long list of Representatives. Opposition to this amendment comes from Missouri Farmers Union, HSUS and other political action groups.
The arguments against Amendment 1 are that it will favor corporate farms over small family farms, GMO farms over organic farms and agricultural corporations such as Monsanto and Cargill over family farms. The last argument is that farming is a natural right and the permission of the state is not needed.
The League of Women Voters stated “Opponents say the amendment’s wording is vague and doesn’t define farming and ranching practices. They also contend that it could favor corporate farms over family farms and may lead to environmental damage.”
Representative Jeanne Kirkton stated “Amendment 1 is an effort by large corporate agriculture conglomerates to put their interests ahead of those of small family farms. In particular, it could protect Chinese-owned Smithfield Foods Inc., in its ongoing legal battles over pollution caused by its facilities.”
The fact that Governor Nixon placed this on the August ballot instead of the November ballot suggests that he did not want the rural (and typically more conservative) voters to come out for the November election. He was, quite simply, trying to diminish the political impact of Amendment 1 by placing it on the August ballot.
So, there are the facts and a few opinions about Amendment 1. You should stop reading now if you don’t want my opinion. This is a personal blog and this is where I will state my personal opinion. Our family is extremely busy this time of year and it is highly unlikely I will be able to debate this issue with you. Feel free to comment and I’ll approve the comments as I have time. Thank you for understanding that as always, my family, my faith, my farm and my job all come before this.
Still reading? Ok, here goes. I know no life other than a life lived surrounded by agriculture. I know there are people who disagree with our choice of raising beef animals and GMOs. That’s their choice. But, it is our choice to continue on. We are good stewards of our land and our animals. If we were not, we would not even be profitable enough to continue on. Our sons are at least the 5th generations of cattle farmers in our families. I will be voting yes on Amendment 1 on August 5th to ensure that our sons’ children will be able farm and ranch in Missouri. HSUS has been on the attack of production animal agriculture for several years now. They have stated that ending animal agriculture is their #1 priority. They prey on the soft hearted Americans that believe their ads of abused animals, while less than 1% of the money they take in every year is spent on saving shelter animals. The majority of their money is spent on political activism and attack ads on American agriculture. I will be voting yes on Amendment 1 as a way to say to HSUS they are not welcome in our state, in our agriculture, in our business. We do not fear corporate farms. We, a multi-generational family farm, are actually considered a corporate farm. Some of our livestock could be considered organic if we were to separate them out and market them as such. You see, we fit many descriptions of farmers and ranchers. We’ve raised well-rounded farm and ranch kids with a work ethic that is unrivaled. They don’t look to others to provide for them but to provide for others. They look to make the best better. Our family will be voting yes on Amendment 1. We will be voting yes for the future of our way of life. We will be voting yes to ensure we can continue to provide you with a safe and affordable food source. Won’t you join us in voting yes?