The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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April 10, 2013

Sides already being taken on ‘right to farm’ proposal

Supporters of a proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitution that would affirm the “right to farm” in the state say the amendment is needed to protect small farmers from radical animal rights groups.

The constitutional amendment would not allow any law to prevent farmers and ranchers from employing agricultural technology or “modern livestock production” practices.

The amendment, already endorsed by joint resolution in the Missouri House of Representatives, was debated briefly Wednesday on the floor of the Senate before it was laid over.

If the Senate eventually passes a joint resolution in support of it, it could go before Missouri voters in 2014.

The amendment is in reaction to Proposition B, dubbed the “Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act,” that was supported by the Humane Society of the United States to regulate the state’s 1,300 puppy mills. The amendment, which set operating standards for dog-breeding operations, was endorsed by 51 percent of the state’s voters in November 2010.

Supporters of the right to farm amendment say it is logical to assume that agriculture and livestock production in Missouri will be the next target of the national Humane Society and what supporters of the amendment are calling “other radical and subversive special interests.”

Opponents of the amendment say a better name for the measure would be the “CAFO/Monsanto Protection Bill” in that it would expand the power of corporate agribusiness to exploit future “agricultural technologies” at the expense of family farmers, property rights and local economies.

Opponents also argue that it could end the right of Missouri residents to exercise the initiative petition procedure where agriculture is involved, an element that was touched on during Wednesday’s debate in the Senate.

CAFOs are concentrated animal feeding operations in which thousands of animals are clustered together. In recent years, those operations have generated lawsuits against large, multistate agricultural corporations by small family farmers, including some in Barton County, who have won large settlements in connection with air and water quality problems.

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