Target: Speaker Timothy Jones, Missouri House of Representatives
Goal: Prevent corporations and factories from employing irresponsible agricultural practices that endanger livestock, consumers and the environment
On August 5, 2014, Missourians voted to approve an amendment to their state constitution, ensuring citizens’ right to “engage in farming and ranching practices.” The implications of Amendment 1—as the proposal is known—will not likely be seen until pressures towards sustainable and humane agricultural practices reach Missouri’s borders. The constitutional amendment is meant to protect farmers and agricultural businesses from regulations that residents believe may impede their farming practices. The amendment’s opposition fears it will do little more than allow factory farms and corporate agriculture to mistreat animals and protect unsafe or unsustainable food practices, dangerous for both consumers and the environment.
“There is a lot of uncertainty with respect to how the amendment would actually work in practice,” said Erin Morrow Hawley, a University of Missouri associate law professor. “You could see a state law challenged based on this constitutional amendment. But the biggest aim is to prevent new state laws coming in from outside the state. The idea is to create another legal tool to stop that.”
As with most constitutional amendments, the language is vague and it is not yet clear how it will be enforced or what protections will be provided farmers, ranchers or businesses under its umbrella. It is clear that it will not be capable of interfering with federal law, though most agricultural regulations that Missouri hopes to fend off are not national, but state laws. The new amendment could undermine legislation against puppy mills and other farmed animals, as well as genetically modified crops and pollutants.
Sign this petition against corporate safeguards and in support of regulations meant only to keep animals, people and our planet safe from irresponsible agricultural practices.
Dear Mr. Jones,
The “right to farm” amendment was proposed not to safeguard the agriculture of Missouri, which accounts for a large amount of the state’s economy, but in response to laws implemented in California against poor living conditions for livestock and in Oregon banning genetically modified crops.
The Kansas City Star editorial board refers to the amendment as an “unnecessary and potentially harmful proposal” and “a concerted effort to shield factory farms and concentrated agricultural feeding operations from regulations to protect livestock, consumers and the environment.”
Traditional family farms have enjoyed the protection of a statewide right to farm bill since 1982, illuminating that the only true beneficiaries of this amendment will be agribusinesses, which will now be able to more easily evade penalties for animal abuse and unsustainable food practices. I urge you to support a recount of Amendment 1 and keep corporations from avoiding regulations relating to animal welfare and the environment.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Paul Sableman via Flickr