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Kander Joins Koster In Backing 'Right To Farm' Amendment

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Secretary of State Jason Kander is throwing his supporting behind the so-called “right to farm” amendment. 

Friday afternoon Kander’s office sent out a statement indicating that he will vote for Amendment 1. Supporters say that it enshrines the right to farm within the state constitution, but opponents say it would make it harder to stop industrial farms from polluting. (Read more about the debate over the amendment here.)

In his statement, Kander said farmers and ranchers across the state told him “what all small business owners do — that one of the best things government can do for them is to keep rules and regulations consistent from year to year.”

“I am voting ‘yes’ on Constitutional Amendment 1, the right to farm, because I want to help ensure that our farmers and ranchers can continue to thrive as the backbone of Missouri’s economy,” Kander said. “Although I did not plan to publicly support or oppose any August ballot issue, I felt it was important for Missourians to know that I see voting ‘yes’ on this constitutional amendment as the smart business decision for our state.”

Kander joins Attorney General Chris Koster in support of “right to farm.” The state’s other Democratic statewide officials – Gov. Jay Nixon and state Treasurer Clint Zweifel – haven’t offered up any statements in support or opposition.

While some conservative Democratic lawmakers voted to put “right to farm” on the ballot, the amendment has faced pushback from some elements of the state’s Democratic Party. Two prominent political figures from northeast Missouri – former Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell and former state Sen. Wes Shoemyer, D-Clarence – are members of a group working to defeat the amendment. Several progressive organizations and county Democratic central committees have announced opposition to the measure.

In a statement released on Friday night, Shoemyer said he "shouldn’t be surprised at this revelation considering the misleading ballot language his office approved for the measure.” (The General Assembly wrote ballot summary.)

“I served with Jason in the Legislature, and expected more from him,” said Shoemyer, the president of the anti-Amendment 1 group Missouri's Food for America.

Maxwell and Shoemyer also issued scathing statements attacking Koster when he announced his support for "right to farm." Koster and Shoemyer tangled back in the mid-2000s over legislation to eliminate local regulations against confined animal feeding operations.       

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.

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