Right to Farm Amendment critical to future of farming

Posted February 27, 2014 at 11:41 am

In the United States 155 people get to eat because one farmer is involved in agriculture. Often people, even people in rural areas, don’t realize the value of that farmer to their own lives and the economic health of the nation. Consumers go to the grocery store and purchase their produce and meat and dairy without a thought for the families that produce it, that make their living off the land. And they don’t realize that agriculture is under attack from outside groups that, if successful, will make food less safe, less secure and more expensive.

Each year the Cedar County Farm Bureau holds an annual Cedar County Outlook meeting and Thank a Farmer Dinner. It’s an evening of food and fellowship and speeches. This year’s event held in Stockton on Thursday, Feb. 20, had a tone of urgency about it as guest speaker State Senator Mike Parson spoke about the need for as amendment to the Missouri constitution that protects the right to farm.

The amendment reads: That agriculture which provides food, energy, health benefits, and security is the foundation and stabilizing force of Missouri’s economy. To protect this vital sector of Missouri’s economy, the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in the state, subject to duly authorized powers, if any, conferred by article VI of the Constitution of Missouri.

According to Parson, the Right to Farm Amendment does three things: Ensures consumer choice by protecting the food chain; Protects Missouri’s farm families from out-of-state animal-rights extremists and Ensures that farmers following the law will continue to have the Right to Farm and Ranch.

The Missouri Farming Rights Amendment will not invalidate county ordinances because counties derive their authority from the state constitution and established state laws. And the amendment will not give farmers a “blank check.” All rights are subject to reasonable regulation and that will still be the case under the Missouri Farming Rights Amendment.

In 2010 HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) wrote an initiative petition know as Proposition B also known as the “puppy mill ballot initiative” that sought to regulate dog breeding by altering the laws of the state of Missouri. Dog breeding regulations were already on the books in Missouri. It was put before the voters in Nov. 2010. And passed by 51%. The HSUS spent millions in advertising. The proposition was opposed by organizations such as the American Kennel Club, the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association and the Greater St. Louis Veterinary Medical Association. The Missouri farming community joined together to defeat to the HSUS in the state legislature and nullified the danger posed by Proposition B.

Cedar County Farm Bureau President Peggy Kenney said that there are organizations working against the Right to Farm Amendment.

“One of the things that is important for people to understand is the difference between HSUS and the local animal shelter. HSUS is a national organization that gets people to send them millions of dollars and only 10 cents on the dollar of what they receive goes to any type of animal welfare,” Kenny said.

“We’re trying to ensure that farming will be a vital industry in the State of Missouri. Every year farmers are expected to produce more food on less acreage for more people. If we don’t protect our right other people will control it for us. I think the message is farmers are trying to provide enough food and safe food that we have a healthy society,” she said.

Other speakers for the evening were Sue Entlicher, Warren Love, Mike Kelley and Cole Car representing Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler..