Missouri Adopts Right-To-Farm Constitutional Amendment

An August 6 Governing article reported that Missouri voters appear to have narrowly adopted a right to farm state constitutional amendment, although a recount is likely.  The article noted that with passage of the  amendment, Missouri will join North Dakota as the only two states with a constitutional right to farm.   From the article:

Supporters, backed by the Missouri Farm Bureau, argued farmers need greater protection from the kinds of food or agricultural regulations that have gained traction in recent years, such as bans on the use of genetically modified seeds, labeling requirements for foods that include genetically modified ingredients, restrictions on dog breeding, setback rules and efforts to address animal treatment in large livestock operations. They freely acknowledged that pushing for those types of laws would be harder if farming were a constitutional right.

Opponents included smaller farmers, animals rights groups, sustainable agriculture organizations and critics of corporate food practices. They noted that Missouri farmers, like those in every other state, already have protection from nuisance complaints. They also noted that the actual wording of the amendment differed from what voters saw in voting booths. There’s no mention of “citizens,” for instance, which critics argue will allow multi-national companies to expand their presence in the state and fend off regulation aimed at more controversial practices, such as the use of antibiotics in animal feed, which has been linked to more drug-resistant infections.

An earlier August 1 Governing article further explored the positions of the proponents and opponents of the amendment and detailed prior attempts in other states:

But the only state to enshrine a “right-to-farm” law in its constitution is North Dakota, which did so in 2012. The amendment there passed by an overwhelming 67 percent.  …

Indiana’s legislature tried to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot in recent years but settled for a stronger statute when it couldn’t get enough votes, [University of Missouri professor emeritus of agriculture John] Ikerd said. Other states, including Utah and Iowa, have pushed so-called “ag-gag” bills, which criminalize the work of undercover journalists taking photographs or shooting video of large livestock operations, which have been linked to the spread of more resistant bacteria strains because they use antibiotics in animal feed.

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