Do we really need something in Missouri’s constitution giving us the right to farm? Blake Hurst with Missouri Farm Bureau points out that our state constitution is actually a lot longer than the U.S. constitution.
“It’s not unusual for our state constitution to talk about individual industries, to talk about specific things in a way that the federal constitution doesn’t,” Hurst said on The Eagle’s Wake Up Columbia.
Hurst says the proposal is about protecting all Missouri farmers from initiative petitions by outside groups like the Humane Society.
There’s no government agency, like the EPA, to regulate farming. Sounds good for the agriculture industry, except it makes it vulnerable to initiative petitions, like the 2010 ballot measure that put restrictions on so-called “puppy mills.”
“Let’s give farming just a bit of extra protection,” Hurst says. “It’s extraordinarily important to the state of Missouri. It’s our leading industry…let’s think about what we do a little bit more before we do it.”
Critics also say the proposed amendment is too vague, and only provides more legal protection for big, corporate farms. Some also have concerns about the official ballot language, saying it’s too vague and will lead to lawsuits.
Hurst says he thinks the wording is clear enough, and includes some language backing up counties that already have their own agriculture ordinances. He says most ballot proposals end up in the courts anyway. Hurst adds it has nothing to do with the size of the farm.
“This amendment will not help that problem, but it won’t hurt it,” Hurst says. “It just gives farmers, whatever size they are, to use the best science and the best animal husbandry that they know how to use.”