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Missouri's Right-to-Farm Amendment

A friend called me the other day. "Is your farmer with you?" she asked. "I'm hearing things from both sides on the Farming Rights amendment, and I don't know what to believe. Chris is my trusted farmer. What does he say?"

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. 
No, wait. 

  • 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. 

That's Chris on a postcard that recently went out from Dairy Farmers of America. The flip side text reads: On August 5, Missouri voters will consider Amendment 1, the Missouri Farming Rights Amendment. This amendment modifies the constitution to explicitly support farmers and ranchers across the state. Specifically, Amendment 1 provides farmers and ranchers the right to engage in common agricultural practices by establishing legal protections from out-of-state interests. 


  1. Thanks so much for putting this post out here. It is helpful to hear from a farmer, rather than tv commercials.

  2. Great explanation & I appreciated reading it. One question--- so who is the person(s) responsible for all of the "scare tactic" commercials that mention China?

    1. HHUS and animal rights extremist who are lying to confuse people!!!!

  3. My family is a farming family and we are voting NO.

    Because of a particular clause that won’t show up on the ballot, the counties of Clay, Platte, and Cass counties couldn’t speak up and impose any future regulations or zoning that would “infringe” on farmers and ranchers.

    Please just be informed and then of course, exercise your right to vote. Thank you.

  4. There is ZERO doubt that the interpretation & enforcements related to Amendment #1, IF passed, will be made in the COURTS. I oppose more of my MO tax dollars going towards unnecessary lawsuits. Write a Statute that is understood & enforceable, & stop trying to pull the wool over We the People’s eyes with some vague, emotionally “fear” charged, misnamed amendment in the name of “protecting” family rights & heritage. If you don’t KNOW, VOTE NO on Amendment #1, and for that matter ANY Constitutional Amendment proposed. We should not take our Constitution lightly. Missouri is voting on EIGHT Constitutional Amendments in 2014. The results of a Constitutional Amendment application should be clear & concise, not “To Be Determined Later” by the Courts.

  5. No More Backroom Deals

    In November 2010, Missouri voters approved a statute called the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act, known at the time as “Proposition B. Five months later, during the 2011 legislative session, Republican lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon agreed on a bill that dropped the phrase “puppy mills” and undid most of the new rules in the voter-approved law, including a 50-dog limit per breeder.

    That led to a broader push by GOP leaders and various agriculture interests to install the right to farm and ranch within the Missouri Constitution.

    The proposed amendment is not about protecting corporate farms, CAFOs, genetically engineered crops or losing local control. ~ Rieboldt

    But, others claim differently:

    The ballot measure is designed to benefit large corporations that engage in large-scale farming and animal-producing operations. ~ Wes Shoemyer

    The ballot measure makes it harder for small family farms to avoid using genetically modified organisms. ~ Joe Maxwell

    The ballot measure could give agribusinesses the right to challenge state and local pollution laws in court. ~ Carolyn Amparan

    “Some of the local zoning laws might be subject to challenge under the constitutional amendment.
    In certain counties, depending on how they’re set up in the state Constitution, you may get some challenges. But, anything based on federal regulation would stand." ~ Erin Morrow Hawley

    But what about us?

    “A lot of our producers, whether they’re Farm Bureau or Cattlemen, pork producers(or) corn, are such size that they can’t handle lawsuits that take a lot of money. “(The) farming rights amendment will help prevent that.” ~ Dr. Alan Wessler - Veterinarian

    So neither can "we the people" afford lawsuits nor do we want our legislators cutting another back room deal to undo this legislation when defeated.

  6. It's a sad day when our elected officials refuse to understand "consequences."

    The Chinese government released a report that said nearly one-fifth of its arable land was polluted. The report said that “the main pollution source is human industrial and agricultural activities.  More specifically, factory waste products, irrigation of land by polluted water, the improper use of fertilizers and pesticides, and livestock breeding have all resulted in tainted farmland

    Senator Bill Rieboldt is willing to change our MO constitution to welcome Chinese owned CAFOs so that MO can create these same conditions and Rep Casey Guernsey is making sure they can buy more land by increasing foreign ownership to 1%. Disgusting.

  7. To add insult to injury

    This bill was introduced in over 10+ State's in the last 2 yrs.

    Why did they all have the same language in all the bills ??? A group in D.C. called ALEC wrote the bill with Big AG lobbyist's in 1996. It seems like they've been planning this day for a long time.

    ALEC pulled the bill out of the file cabinet and got the U.S. Farm Bureau to run the football out to the State Farm Bureau's. The Missouri Farm Bureau took this bill around the Missouri State House last year with the word "MODERN" and people like us said "no".......

    This year the Missouri Farm Bureau convinced State Rep. Bill Reiboldt of Neosho to sponsor the bill. Bill Reiboldt DID NOT WRITE the BILL !!!! But he will tell you he did......

    We have the right to farm and it is already covered in the Missouri Constitution. Here it is read it your self:

    This bill if passed will hurt the small the medium sized farmers as they could be forced to get a permit to farm from the "Duly Authorized Powers"

    Yes, Big AG will get protections against PETA and HSUS, but the small and medium farmers will not as the "Duly Authorized Powers" will control us at the local level. The Health Dept., County Commission, and the City Council will have the authority to regulate the small to medium farms. 

    Please past this information far and wide and tell everyone you know to "VOTE NO" on Amendment 1.

  8. So how did this all turn out?


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