On August 5th, Missourians voted on an ill-conceived “Right to Farm” constitutional amendment supported by a coalition of major corporate farming interests, which spent over $1 million to secure its passage.
The amendment was couched in farmer-friendly phrasing and legal language with unclear ramifications - … the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state, subject to duly authorized powers, if any, conferred by Article VI of the Constitution of Missouri.
However, one intended consequence is clear. It will protect their preferred brand of corporate, industrial agriculture over family farms and ranches. The coalition that opposed Amendment 1 was outspent, but not outfought. In the end, the amendment passed by a razor thin margin - approximately 2,500 votes out of nearly 1 million cast.
The passage of Amendment 1 is a cautionary tale. Past attacks on state anti-corporate farming laws eventually claimed the nation’s strongest family farm and ranch protections - Nebraska’s Initiative 300 and South Dakota’s Amendment E. And the passage of Amendment 1 will likely lead to corporate farming assaults on the laws and constitutions of other states.
Those who stood in the breech defending Missouri’s family farms, ranches and small towns will face stern challenges in their future efforts. We should honor them and help them when we can. And we must learn by their example, in preparation for the day when the “rights of corporations to farm” crowd come to our states.
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