LETTER TO THE EDITOR: 'Right to Farm' is for corporations, not families

Thursday, July 31, 2014 | 10:47 a.m. CDT

As a former state senator and lieutenant governor, I have always held the view that our Missouri Constitution should be amended only in the rarest and most compelling of circumstances.

As a fourth-generation hog farmer from Audrain County, I can tell you that the “right to farm” measure, in the form of Amendment 1, doesn’t make good sense as an amendment to our constitution, and it will take us down the wrong course for the state I love so much.

I urge all voters to get out to the polls on Aug. 5 and say “No” to Amendment 1.

While agriculture remains a major industry in Missouri, its character has changed over the last 40 years, with so many of my brethren in the world of farming losing their livelihoods and not being able to compete against corporate farms that cut corners and drive the traditional family farmer off the land.

We’ve lost 90 percent of hog farmers, 85 percent of dairy farmers and 95 percent of egg producers during this time frame.

Amendment 1 will accelerate this erosion in our rural communities, giving free rein to corporate farmers, controlled in New York or even in Beijing, controlling an increasing share of our croplands and pastures.

And we’ll be helpless to stop them, as they enjoy constitutional protections granted to them by Amendment 1.

Farming is about a connection to the land, and a connection to our communities, to the animals, air and water we are entrusted to handle responsibly.

The New York hedge funds and foreign-owned corporations that control an increasing share of our farms don’t care about our communities – heck, they don’t know even know a soul in our communities.

They’re the ones backing Amendment 1. It’s for them, and not for us. Don’t let them pollute our constitution or our air and water and treat animals like they don’t matter.

Joe Maxwell is vice president of the Humane Society of the United States, a former lieutenant governor and state senator, and fourth-generation family farmer. He lives in Mexico.

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