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'Right To Farm' Opponents Stage Rally At Missouri Capitol

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

 Around 50 people rallied at the State Capitol Thursday against a proposed constitutional amendment to limit regulations on farmers and ranchers in Missouri.

Opponents of the "Right to Farm" ballot measure say state law already protects farmers and ranchers, and the proposal is really geared toward protecting corporations that engage in large-scale farming and animal-producing operations.

Wes Shoemyer is a former Democratic state senator who operates a farm in northeastern Missouri.

"I know the other side says they don't want outside interests telling us what to do," Shoemyer told the crowd, "but I want to tell you that I don't think there's anything more outside than a Chinese corporation owning our food and fiber and our land.... Let's not give them our rights!"

The company Shoemyer was referring to is Smithfield.  It was purchased last year by Hong Kong-based Shuanghui International Holdings Limited, which has since changed its name to W.H. Group Limited.  

Also speaking out against Constitutional Amendment 1 was Jake Davis, who owns a grocery store in Columbia that specializes in locally grown food.  He says the amendment would do nothing for family farmers and would make it harder to produce food locally.

"It's likely to make it harder on us to label (genetically modified organisms)," Davis said.  "It's likely to make it harder on us to have any impact on our neighbors whenever they build a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO), when they pollute the stream, when they contaminate our organically raised crops with their pesticides and their herbicides."

The amendment's supporters argue that family farms and ranches are being attacked by animal rights activists and environmentalists as well as by an overreaching federal bureaucracy.  Missourians will vote on the proposal Aug. 5.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.

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