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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Missouri farming needs regulation to prevent soil erosion

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 | 5:11 p.m. CDT

Proponents of Constitutional Amendment 1 dubiously claim that farming in Missouri is threatened by out-of-state interests. They say this puts the state's economy in peril, hence the need for a "right to farm" amendment.

A much less imaginary threat to Missouri agriculture and the state's economy is Missouri agriculture itself. Since farming began in Missouri, soil on crop land has been eroding faster than it is being formed. If we want to save our soil, then discredited farming practices must be abandoned — not enshrined in the bill of rights as Amendment 1 would.

Missouri has a tax paid by smokers to help combat the negative effects of smoking on society. Likewise, a portion of Missouri's sales tax helps combat the negative effects of soil erosion. But the industry responsible for soil erosion, Missouri agriculture, largely avoids contributing thanks to numerous legislated agricultural sales tax exemptions.

Proponents correctly claim that Amendment 1 will not take away any county powers to regulate agriculture. They conveniently fail to mention that most counties are prohibited from regulating agriculture (and hence soil erosion) by the state's conflicted planning and zoning statutes.

An industry that is wasting our state's soil resources and which shirks economic responsibility for the necessary remedial measures does not deserve any more freedom from regulation than it already enjoys.

Help keep Missouri farming by voting NO on Amendment 1.

Mark Belwood is a farmer in Saline County.


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