The people who tried a full-on repeal of Prop B -- the 2010 voter-approved ballot measure to crack down on cruelty to dogs in a state that had become notoriously known as the puppy mill capital of the United States -- are now trying to pull a fast one on Missouri voters in a statewide vote next Tuesday, August 5. The state has long had a statutory "right to farm" provision. Now, through Amendment 1, they want a "right to farm" provision in the state constitution, far more sweeping in effect, that reads in part that "farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in the state."
What would Amendment 1 mean in practical terms? Assuming the worst-case scenario:
The state could not restrict foreign ownership of factory farms, or impose standards for animal care on these megafactories. That should concern every family farmer.
The state could not restrict captive shooting of deer on hundreds of cervid ranches in the state. That should concern every sportsman, since deer farming ranches are at odds with the North American Wildlife Management Model and it is documented that these deer farms have been major incubators for Chronic Wasting Disease, a progressive, fatal disease that threatens wild deer populations.
Missouri's standards for the care of dogs in large-scale commercial dog breeding operations might be fully repealed, creating a free-for-all for puppy mills in the state.
Amendment 1 is a radical, overreaching, dangerous ballot measure brought forward by organizations, led by the Missouri Farm Bureau, that opposed voter-approved ballot measures to outlaw cockfighting and to crack down on puppy mills.
Just about every major paper in the state has urged voters to oppose Amendment 1. Here's what they have to say:
"....[c]reating a constitutional protection for all agricultural enterprises could create a haven for corporate farms that pollute our environment and put undue pressure on family farms." Springfield News Leader: July 26, 2014.
Amendment I is "a measure designed to protect corporate agriculture rather than the traditional family farm." Joplin Globe: July 13, 2014.
"Changing the state constitution to give extra protection to an industry that has had its way in Missouri since the founding of the state shuts consumers out completely." St Louis Post-Dispatch: June 16, 2014.
"Amendment 1 is a concerted effort to shield factory farms and concentrated agricultural feeding operations from regulations to protect livestock, consumers and the environment." Kansas City Star: June 23, 2014.
"The amendment is likely to create some new litigation without good purpose....Amendment 1 is clutter. Vote 'no.'" Columbia Daily Tribune: July 15, 2014.
"Amendment 1 protects the farming practices of corporate farmers absolutely.....The right to build factory farms--including those with thousands of hogs confined next to family farms? Spraying poison over our homes and farms that can also drift over towns?" West Plains Daily Quill: July 22, 2014.
"This bill is NOT good for farmers. It will greatly increase further consolidation of agriculture, increase proliferation of genetically modified patented life forms, and destroy local control of the spread of the consolidating (ie. Family Farm Destroying) CAFO's." Ozarks Sentinel.
Amendment 1 could "give big corporate agriculture an even bigger advantage over family farms." Christian County Headliner News:July 22, 2014.
"If you see the ghost of Proposition B in [Amendment 1], your eyesight is excellent. Proposition B, our readers will recall, is the animal welfare law approved by voters in 2010 but then changed dramatically by lawmakers." Jefferson City News Tribune: June 8, 2014.
The measure has been funded almost exclusively by corporate and commodity agriculture groups who want no standards in agriculture, including on puppy mills. It's so overreaching that a remarkable array of groups are opposed to it - including family farming groups such as the Missouri Farmers Union and the Missouri Rural Crisis Center; humane organizations such as the Humane Society of Missouri, Great Plains SPCA, and the ASPCA; conservative organizations such as the Missouri Libertarian Party and the Locke and Smith Foundation; good government and religious groups such as the League of Women Voters of Missouri and Missouri Faith Voices; and environmental groups such as the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Sierra Club.
Missouri voters should cast their ballot against Amendment 1 on August 5th. And please spread the word to Missourians you know.
Paid for by The Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, CEO, 2100 L Street NW, Washington, DC 20037.
This article first appeared on Wayne Pacelle's blog, A Humane Nation.