WE LOOK BACK ON MISSOURI'S RIGHT TO FARM AMENDMENT PASSAGE ON ITS ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY
Amendment 1. Exactly one year ago today, Missourians had an important vote. They had the opportunity to forever guarantee the right to farm and ranch in their state. After years of attacks from special interest groups on its top industry, state leaders knew that something had to change. Groups like Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) would continue to push harmful, misleading, and unnecessary legislation until they fulfilled their promise of ending animal agriculture.
They did so with Proposition B, which was a misleading bill that would have placed unfair restrictions on many segments of Missouri agribusiness. Without that bill’s reworking, their influence would continue to grow.
What HSUS didn’t count on were the coordinated efforts of thousands of Missourians to spread the word about this Washington D.C.-based group’s fallacies and the need for an amendment to the state constitution which would prevent it from decimating agriculture ever again.
Missourians took to the polls on August 5th, 2014 and made a definitive statement about their support for the people who choose to make a living growing or raising their food. Following in the footsteps of North Dakota, which passed a similar amendment in 2012, the state now has preserved its heritage and ensured that its agriculture professionals will continue to produce high quality, affordable food for its families.
The opponents of Amendment 1 could not accept this result. They visited every possible avenue towards blocking its implementation. First, it was a recount. This was not an unreasonable request, given the margin of “Yes” and “No” votes. The recount confirmed those results. Then, Amendment 1’s legality was challenged in the courts based on what they claimed was “misleading ballot language”. Keep in mind, this resort is usually taken before the vote occurs, as they had plenty of time to read the bill’s language and make this challenge beforehand. Fortunately, the Missouri Supreme Court did not agree with those critics, and Judge Mary Russell had this to say on the ruling:
“The ballot title was sufficient and fair, there was no election irregularity, and the results of the election adopting this amendment are valid.”This desperate attempt to derail an important piece of legislation for Missouri failed, and now the state has constitutional protection for its farmers, ranchers, and consumers, who will all see the benefits of continued agricultural success.
Right to Farm amendments are an excellent, common sense approach to protecting a vital sector of society. Their recent passage in Missouri and North Dakota provides a blueprint for other states to do the same.
Currently, Oklahoma is awaiting next year’s vote on its own Right to Farm amendment, State Question 777. Agriculture drives the economy there, and it is responsible for feeding, clothing, and providing thousands of jobs for its citizens. There are 80,000 farms and ranches in Oklahoma (98% of those family-owned and operated) which feed nearly 4 million people in the state as well as millions more around the globe.
However, supporters of a Right to Farm amendment in Oklahoma are aware of the battle to come. HSUS and its branches have already begun running attack ads. They will seek to alter their strategy from previous failures, and they will be even more relentless in Oklahoma than they were in Missouri. This will only motivate Right to Farm supporters even more, as they look to build on the momentum of previous victories over the animal rights agenda.
Right to Farm is not a loophole. It doesn’t give Ag professionals a license to do as they please. They will still be beholden to current laws and regulations that keep our food healthy, maintain strong welfare for our animals, and reduce impact on the environment. These amendments simply prevent outsiders from influencing that.
So today, let’s celebrate the anniversary of this victory for Missouri, the American heritage it protects, and the message it sends to the rest of the country that we will continue to fight for our rights!