The world is changing, are you listening?
Twenty years ago when I was farm director at the news-talk radio station in Springfield, Ill. we used that phrase to promote our programming, encouraging the faithful listenership and other potential listeners to tune in. I thought about that earlier today as I scanned my Facebook page to find so many of my friends posting negative comments about the proposed Right to Farm amendment to the Missouri Constitution.
According to attorney Brent Haden of Haden & Bynre Law Firm, the Right to Farm amendment, if passed, will make farming and ranching a right in Missouri, similar in scope and protection to the speech, religion and gun rights already in Missouri’s Constitution. I personally do not take making a change to a state’s constitution lightly, but the entire economic history of Missouri is tied to agriculture, and Missouri has become a target for anti-ag and anti-hunting activist groups.
My hope is that people will do their research before jumping to any conclusion based on what the paid mouthpieces for HSUS are saying. One of my friends wrote that this amendment will open up Missouri to more foreign ownership of land. This is not true. The cap on the amount of land owned by foreign entities will not change. Another friend commented that large, multi-national corporations are pouring millions of dollars into this campaign. Not true. Family farmers in the state are scraping together dollars to invest in educating people to ensure this amendment’s passage. The big dollars are coming from opponents of the amendment – those well-funded anti-agriculture groups that push misinformation on the public to pass burdensome and expensive regulations and prohibitions, making it even more difficult for the smaller family farms to stay afloat.
I expect to encounter resistance from those people who are generations removed from the farm. I am disheartened to hear from friends and neighbors in my rural community who are siding with the anti-ag activists. One friend wrote about how local control will be a thing of the past and large CAFOs will take over and destroy our environment. First of all, EPA isn’t going anywhere and CAFOs fall under a great amount of environmental scrutiny. Secondly, the language of the Right to Farm amendment specifically leaves the powers of local governments in place under Article 6 of the Missouri Constitution. If the Right the Farm amendment passes, local governments will have all the same powers.
As the daughter of 6th generation family farmers who have land that has been in my family for more than 175 years and a farmer myself in Missouri, I believe that a rising tide carries all boats. I’m sick and tired of the US vs. THEM mentality. It shouldn’t matter if your farm is big or small, with organic or conventional farming practices. What should matter is that you are doing it right on your farm every day. Attorney Brent Hayden explains, “The Right to Farm amendment is very broad in its protections. Nevertheless, like our other constitutional protections, its meaning will be more specifically defined by court rulings and state law. The amendment’s language guarantees ‘the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices,’ and protects any activity undertaken by farmers and ranchers to raise crops or animals. However, those who violate laws or regulations would still be subject to enforcement action. Bad actors would not be protected.”
In 2012, more than 26% of the children in rural America lived in poverty. Stop and think how many babies will go to bed hungry if we all go back to farming like we did in 1960. Like it or not, we cannot feed our current population without conventional agriculture.