Supporters of the proposed "right to farm" amendment to the Missouri constitution will begin stumping for the proposal around the state this week.
Four members of Missouri's congressional delegation, all Republicans, are scheduled to rally support for the measure this week: U.S. Reps. Billy Long, Blaine Luetkemeyer, Jason Smith and Vicky Hartzler. Long will appear in Springfield today; then on Tuesday, Luetkemeyer will be in Jefferson City; while Smith will speak in Cape Girardeau, and finally Hartzler will speak in Columbia Wednesday.
What became known as Constitutional Amendment 1 was first passed by Missouri lawmakers in 2013 as House Joint Resolution 11. It states in part that the right to engage in farming and ranching shall not be infringed upon and shall be "forever guaranteed." It is set to go before voters Aug. 5, along with four other proposed constitutional amendments. The original resolution was sponsored last year by state Rep. Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho.
"We're not in any way trying to stop the old traditional ways of farming or the new modern ways of farming," Reiboldt said. "We just are giving farmers the constitutional right to do what they do in a way that they feel like is the best for their particular operation."
Reiboldt also says the amendment is needed to guard against over-regulation from the federal government and to protect farmers and ranchers from frivolous lawsuits. It could also cement protections for dog breeders and concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.
Opponents argue that the proposal gives constitutional protection to animal abuse. Jared Goodman, PETA Foundation's director of animal law, issued the following statement Friday regarding Constitutional Amendment 1:
This proposed amendment is apparently the legislature's attempt to constitutionalize a right to abuse animals on farms and destroy the environment. Animals used for food are castrated without pain relief, beaten with steel gate rods and shocked with electric prods. Cows have their horns burned from their skulls. Large-scale farms produce rivers of excrement, which contaminate groundwater, and are a leading cause of greenhouse-gas emissions. The public is demanding more accountability, not less.
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