Agriculture’s fight to keep the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) from changing the ballot initiative process in Missouri continues. Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst tells Brownfield they are working with other groups on initiative petition reform and on fighting the HSUS initiative petition called “Your Vote Counts” that Missouri Farm Bureau has renamed “Big Money Talks.” Hurst says, “We think ‘Big Money Talks’ is a lot more descriptive of what’s going on. We’ve got out of state groups, including the HSUS, who are trying to make it impossible for the state legislature to hold hearings on initiative petitions that have been passed by the voters to make needed either technical or substantive changes.”
Hurst says because of the continued threat to production agriculture from the HSUS, the Missouri Farm Bureau is “working hard to defeat” that initiative. “It’s just a really bad piece of legislation influenced by people who don’t have Missourians’ best interests at heart, so, we’re opposing it,” Hurst says.
The HSUS is pushing for changes because the Missouri legislature this year revised the animal rights group’s so-called Puppy Mill Ballot Measure – also known as Proposition B – that voters passed in 2010.
Heading into the next legislative session that begins in January, the Missouri Farm Bureau is working on legislation to restrict paid petition gatherers and to make ballot language on initiative petitions more transparent.
“We didn’t feel that the language that the voters saw,” continued Hurst, “If all you knew about Proposition B is what you read in the voting booth, you were not a well-informed voter.”
Ag groups contend that the ballot language would have allowed similar restrictions on livestock production as HSUS had proposed for Missouri dog breeders.