The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 22, 2013

Your View: ‘Right to farm’ would do just the opposite

By Kaye Smith
Special to The Globe

PIERCE CITY, Mo. — So many problems abound with the “right to farm” bill. It’s a daunting task to enumerate and expound on them within space limits, beginning with the bill’s working title.

“Right to farm” is a misnomer. The places some lawmakers are trying to confer constitutional status upon are not farms. They are manufacturing plants. So-called “farmers” don’t even own their livestock. They just rent and raise their “product.”

In the process, they spew untold millions of gallons of unnatural waste anywhere it’s convenient. Never mind our air, land and water. The hog-concentrated animal feeding operation near Buffalo River plans to expand to the 640 acres around its plant near the river. What could possibly go wrong? How long before we say goodbye to floating a polluted Buffalo River?

Proponents say these bills emerged out of concern about Proposition B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, passed by voters in 2010.

They say it’s logical to assume that livestock production will be the next target of “radical and subversive groups” such as the Humane Society and others. First, we all know what we do when we “assume.” Second, what is radical or subversive about trying to protect man’s best friend from being jammed into a small cage and left dirty, hungry, thirsty and neglected until it can shove out enough puppies to be profitable?

“Modern livestock production practices” and “agricultural technologies” are not defined. If these bills pass, it won’t matter what they mean. Constitutional status will mean no group — family farmers, cities, townships, school boards, counties, health departments — has recourse. It’s a blank check to multinational corporations to do whatever they want to be more profitable. Maybe they’ll decide to start skinning live chickens, turkeys and hogs because the practice is more profitable. If that offends anyone, too bad — it’s the law.

How ironic that the very same week our legislators are debating this issue, for which the puppy mill act was the impetus, they are also debating and holding public hearings about whether to name “Old Drum” as our official state dog.

“Old Drum” became the subject of an 1870 Missouri Supreme Court case and the delivery of a closing argument, “Eulogy to Old Drum,” which states, “While a man cannot depend on friends, family or wealth, the one that will never desert him or prove ungrateful or treacherous is his dog.”

Kaye Smith

Pierce City