COLUMBIA — On Aug. 5, Missouri citizens will vote on Amendment 1. If approved, it would revise the state constitution and "forever guarantee" the rights of farmers and ranchers to "engage in farming and ranching practices."
The amendment has produced strong reactions from both agricultural and environmental organizations throughout the state. The Missourian reached out to several, asking them to share their reasons for opposing or supporting the proposed amendment.
SUPPORT THE AMENDMENT
Dan Kleinsorge, executive director, Missouri Farmers Care:
"The Missouri farming rights amendment will protect the hard-working Missouri farm families who dedicate their lives to feeding our families, saving thousands of Missouri jobs and ensuring our families continue to have access to quality food at the grocery store. This simple constitutional amendment is supported by farmer-led agriculture organizations and family farmers and will protect Missouri’s No. 1 industry and help protect Missouri from out-of-state special interests."
Mike Deering, Missouri Cattlemen's Association:
"Our support is rooted firmly in the fact that there are fewer farmers and ranchers than there were just a few short years ago. In order to give family farmers and ranchers a fighting chance, we must do everything possible to ensure their rights are clearly defined and protected in Missouri's Constitution. The Farming Rights Amendment is more about tomorrow than it is about today. The next generation of farmers and ranchers in this state need some certainty that their rights will not be kicked around like the dust on a dry July day in Missouri. Farming and ranching is a risky business and we need to minimize burdens on those who follow the laws and regulations.
Rebecca French Smith, The Missouri Farm Bureau:
"Nothing in the amendment bars Missouri consumers from buying whatever food they choose to buy; nothing in the amendment infringes on local control; nothing in the amendment constrains Missouri farmers from using whatever production methods work best on their farms. It provides a stronger legal basis for challenging or discouraging unreasonable restrictions that might otherwise be imposed on farmers and ranchers."
OPPOSE THE AMENDMENT
Carolyn Amparan, publicity chair of the Osage chapter of the Sierra Club:
"The amendment could be used as justification in potential lawsuits to overturn existing or future environmental protection laws of the State of Missouri or most Missouri counties. This potential could mean costly litigation for both state and county governments as well as jeopardize the protections of clean air and clean water we all take for granted."
Richard Oswald, president, the Missouri Farmers Union:
"Family farmers are at the center of ethical, trustworthy food production. They produce grain, meat and fiber. Amendment One does not mention family farmers or discern between them and corporations. Some corporations that masquerade as farms in Missouri are foreign-owned. The Missouri General Assembly recently made it easier for foreigners to own more of Missouri's farmland. But proponents of Amendment One use pictures of Missouri family farmers to promote it, even though they know Amendment One will surely offer protection to corporate farm owners in China."
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO, Humane Society of the United States:
"This so-called 'Right to Farm' amendment is extreme and unnecessary, and will only serve to protect factory farms, puppy mills, and foreign interests — those entities who profit from abusing animals and the environment. 'Right to Farm' is really just the 'right to harm.'"
Supervising editor is Jeanne Abbott.