Your Opinion: Right to Farm opposed

Dear Editor:

Are the people’s rights, whether they be farmers or not, important to our political leaders? Are politicians promoting the Right to Farm (RTF) constitutional amendment protecting corporations who can contribute heavily to their campaigns and give them lobbyists jobs after their political careers or are they looking out for the general public?

The main argument for RTF is that Missouri’s farmers are under attack from frivolous lawsuits. But wait, agricultural producers already benefit from special right-to-farm legislation in all major agricultural states. In Missouri, statute 537.295 is one law that already gives this protection. See it under statutes at www.moga.mo.gov. So why push so hard for a constitutional change and mislead the public about farmer’s protections?

Quoted sections below are from an op-ed in the Columbia Tribune by John Ikerd, professor emeritus in agriculture and economics from MU. Making RTF a special constitutional right would give “Foreign corporations — including the largest pork, beef and poultry processors in the U.S. — rights that ordinary American citizens do not have, including special exemptions from Occupational Health and Safety Administration, Clean Water and Clean Air Acts and legitimate nuisance lawsuits. These corporations will benefit from increased consumption of animal products among affluent consumers in developing countries, such as China and Korea. They get the benefits; we keep the chemical and biological wastes.”

RTF amendments are yet another example of corporate agriculture trying to protect itself from a public increasingly aware of significant issues with the safety of the U.S. food system. If put into the constitution, RTF would also make impossible any future regulation deemed necessary for public health related to, for example, genetically modified organisms and concentrated animal feeding operations.

Again John Ikerd ,“There are better alternatives for the future than industrial agriculture. An emerging sustainable agriculture, including organically grown crops and humanely raised livestock and poultry, will be capable of providing enough healthful food at affordable costs meeting the food needs of Americans and of feeding the world without industrial technologies that pollute the environment and degrade society.”

“People have an inherent right to defend themselves whenever they have legitimate reason to believe their safety, health or essential well-being is threatened. Constitutions were never intended to give special rights to any particular group of people, but instead to ensure that no particular people, including farmers, are able to deny the inherent rights of others.”

Vote no on 1.

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