I’m not going to lie. I puddled up like a school girl when we got the news early last Wednesday morning that the Missouri Right to Farm Amendment had passed. So many people had worked for so many months to educate friends, family, neighbors, other consumers and fellow farmers about Amendment 1. The momentum for a victory had begun to pick up; then in the final days before the vote, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) dumped a few hundred thousand into the opposition’s war chest to spread misinformation and fear about the amendment’s meaning. Almost all of the dollars invested in fighting Amendment 1 in Missouri came from HSUS and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) neither of which are based in the state I’ve called home for more than a decade.
As primary day drew near, emotions were running high. Farmers were pitted against farmers. There was resentment and frustration on both sides of the issue. Voters were told time and again by a man standing in a barn with a pitchfork in hand that Amendment 1 isn’t about Missouri’s right to farm, but instead about China’s right to farm in Missouri.
HSUS was reeling in unknowing consumers – rural and urban – telling them that this amendment would give corporate agriculture a free pass to do anything it wants and there would be nothing they or anyone else could do to stop it. Animals would be treated inhumanely and our waters would be contaminated.
One of the anti-amendment promotional pieces claimed corporations would have blanket immunity. It said “This would be like having granted tobacco companies and smokers the constitutional rights to forever continue their practices of the 1970’s.”
Holy smokes, folks! People bought into these lies! Good people I know and trust succumbed to the power of fear that these anti-agriculture radicals paid some serious money to disperse. Like Kool-Aid, they drank it down.
Because Right to Farm passed by a close margin (about 2,500 votes) there will be a recount. How could this happen? Science and truth should prevail, but the truth of the matter is that agriculture overall is fragmented and has failed miserably over the years of communicating with the ever-growing population that is not directly involved with farming or ranching.
A new survey by Purdue University shows that many consumers are using animal rights group, such as HSUS and PETA, as their primary source of information about livestock and poultry welfare. Over half of the nearly 800 consumers surveyed said they did not have a primary source for animal welfare information. But those who identified a primary information source most commonly named an “animal protection organization”.
Talk to your neighbors. Talk to your friends. Let them know why you do what you do on your farm. If you don’t take the time out of your busy day to educate them and answer their questions, the anti-agricultural radical groups will!