And then another one called. And some Facebooked. And emailed.
I love that my husband is a trusted farmer. I love that he is free to care for his animals in the way that he sees fit and in a way that is best for his animals. I love that he knows how the dairy works inside and out, that there isn't a part of the planting and harvesting he can't explain, that he is willing to get up in the middle of the night to help a mama cow give birth, that he takes pride in providing a healthy product (milk) to those of us who want to drink it.
Makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. That could also be because I haven't turned the air conditioning on today. Either way.
So what about Amendment 1?
Section 35. That agriculture which provides food, energy, health benefits, and security is the foundation and stabilizing force of Missouri's economy. To protect this vital sector of Missouri's economy, the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state, subject to duly authorized powers, if any, conferred by article VI of the Constitution of Missouri.
The amendment puts a few things in place, namely:
The rights of cows to stand together around fences, jawing about the latest in alfalfa with their neighbors.
- The ability to farm as farmers see fit. While out-of-state activists, extremists and environmentalists often have a lot of enthusiasm, they're not all that familiar with how farm life works. And they have some pretty hefty agendas and spread a lot of misinformation and fear. That's why we give farm tours and let people see what our farm is really like. It's always rewarding to watch a bus full of people visit our dairy and to hear them say afterwards, "We read a lot of weird stuff on the Internet about dairies, but it was so good to actually get to see cows and farm families in real life. You guys actually really care about them!"
- The availability of choices. That's the beauty of America right there. You can have a big farm, a small farm, an organic farm, a conventional farm, a goat farm, a pig farm, a sweet potato farm, or a pepper farm. (Ok, maybe there's no such thing but at the rate the peppers are growing in my garden right now, it sure feels it.) This amendment protects all farmers, no matter how big their farm is, which ultimately gives you, the consumer, the ability to pick and choose what kinds of products you want to eat, or not eat, when you head to the grocery store. In the end, we produce what you want. Your dollar drives what we do. That's why there are choices.
- Continued protection. The current right-to-farm laws came about because of a lack of #1. People who lived or moved in next to a farm family and didn't like the smell of a hog farm or were annoyed that their neighbor's slow-moving tractor hindered their drive home or disliked the amount of dust or flies on nearby farms could simply sue the farm family, shut down their farm, and that was that. So laws were put in place, and they served essentially to remind consumers that farming is sometimes dirty, messy, smelly business. It's not all butterflies and unicorns dancing in the meadow under the glow of a soft morning sun. Animals smell. The earth has dust. Tractors simply can't move safely at high speeds. Those laws protect farm families and their property, which, by the way, almost any farmer would love to chat with you about! And let's also be clear: Farmers still have to follow all the same laws as before.
- More conversation. Words means things, and in a discussion about food, it's important to start out with some basic definitions so that we're all on the same page. Talking about farming and farmers and what those things mean is a true joy and always a learning experience for us and for others. To some, we're family farmers (like 98% of the farms in America!). To others, we're corporate farmers (because we have more than two cows and provide lots of local *gasp* milk for the Kansas City area). We love to chat with people about what it means to be both. Because at the end of the day, that's what we are. We're a family who farms, and we happen to be blessed to do so in a robust way. Talking about this amendment allows us as farmers and you as consumers to talk about what you're hearing in the news and then what it looks like in real life.
Voting yes on Amendment 1 doesn't mean farmers are given free reign. Farming remains a highly regulated industry (We recently noticed that the dairy is inspected by the government more often than a Panera restaurant is!), and that won't change a bit. All the laws and regulations still apply to farmers.
It simply means that my husband gets to continue to take care of his land and animals, alongside his family and employees, just as he has been and his family has been for six generations.
And when land and animals are well taken care of, they usually take good care of farmers in return, which means that, at the end of the day, you as the consumer still have the ability to choose whatever kind of milk, pork, chicken and beef you want.
Now let's eat up.
I'll bring the peppers.