“Right to Farm” is WRONG for Missouri Farmers

by Molly on July 23, 2014

“Right to Farm” is WRONG for Missouri Farmers

an Editorial by Molly Rockamann


At first glance, you might think that this language is something I would support:

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.
As with any legislation, though, particularly with the kind that is put onto the ballot by corporate interests (aka legislators swayed by special interest lobbyists) and NOT by 250,000+ voter signatures, there is a story behind Amendment One that sheds more light on the topic.
Who’s Behind The Yes On Amendment 1 Campaign?
Missouri Farmers Care, is the “Yes on 1” campaign. It is a coalition of industrial agriculture stakeholders such as trade organizations like Missouri Cattleman’s Association, Missouri Soybean Assoc., Corn Growers, Pork Assn, Electric Coops, etc. in addition to the likely suspects, Monsanto, Cargill, St. Louis Agribusiness Club, and the Missouri Farm Bureau.  They are attempting to demonstrate that agriculture is “united” in its support of this legislation; this is plainly not true. The Missouri Farmers Union (with much less media savvy as evidenced by their website), an organization of family farmers, is vehemently opposed to this legislation.
As a registered Political Action Committee, Missouri Farmers Care filed a treasurer’s report this April, showing $344,842 as “Cash on hand.” (Of course that doesn’t include funds raised from its members since April.) These contributions are being spent to tell us how necessary farms are to produce food. Isn’t this something we already know?
And unfortunately, the trade associations and companies behind this amendment don’t seem to be all that connected to growing the healthy food they speak of; growing huge monocultural swaths of corn and soy equates to feeding more ethanol plants, pig factories and processed food ingredient lists than it does to feeding people real food. The industrial food system is making Americans sick, fat and tired. The industrial farming system is contaminating our food, our water, our land and our air and decimating rural economies.
On the other hand, the small farms movement that is sweeping our state is creating more diversified farms, often organic, growing a variety of crops. These farms are feeding people fresh, nutritious food. Do we need a State Amendment to ensure this? NO.
Vote NO on Amendment One Vote NO on Amendment One
Missouri farmers don’t need Amendment 1; we have the right to farm and have since 1976 in statute. But foreign-owned factory farms want the Amendment. Last year the legislature changed state law so that a Chinese company could buy Smithfield, the nation’s largest pork producer with mega operations in northern Missouri.
Amendment 1 gives constitutional protections to factory farms, puppy mills, and activities deemed “agriculture”. A quick review of the Amendment’s supporters and opponents reveals the agenda: Industrial pork, big agribusiness, and puppy mills favor the amendment- and have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote it.  Missouri Farmers Union, Missouri Rural Crisis Center, the Humane Society, Sierra Club, organic farmers, Dr. John Ikerd, and family farmers oppose it.
To conclude, on Tuesday, August 5th Missouri voters will have their ONLY chance to vote on several Constitutional Amendments. Every one that passes (50%+1) will be etched into our state’s constitution requiring another election to change. (See them here: http://sos.mo.gov/elections/2014ballot/)
Big Ag is hoping that people who care about safe, healthy food and farming in Missouri will stay home Tuesday, August 5th. PLEASE help make sure that does NOT happen. (Take the pledge to Vote NO on 1.)
Let’s show them that we will continue to watch over our food supply, thank you very much.
As a farmer who already enjoys the right to farm in this great state of Missouri, and as a consumer and citizen who believes that factory farms and CAFOs do NOT have the right to have the red carpet rolled out for them, I urge you to vote NO on Amendment One on Tuesday, August 5th.

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