Missouri voters next year will decide whether to approve a constitutional amendment that supporters argue would protect farmers against potentially unfair regulations.
The proposal passed by the Legislature on Tuesday would "forever guarantee" the rights of farmers to engage in farming and ranching in the state, if approved by voters in the November 2014 election. Senators passed the amendment 28-6, shortly after the House approved it.
Sponsoring Rep. Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho, said the amendment would allow farmers to continue raising livestock and producing quality food for the state.
Opponents said the measure could prevent future agriculture regulations. They pointed to the opposition by agriculture groups to a 2010 voter-approved ballot measure that limited the number of breeding dogs business can own and set new requirements for cage space, feeding and veterinary care.
"I still object to the overall purpose of this because I just don't see where the right to farm has been infringed upon at all," said Sen. Paul LeVota, D-Independence. "It is going to become puppy mills part two."
The Legislature passed a law in 2011 that scaled back some of the requirements of the dog breeding measure.
The Missouri Cattlemen's Association released a statement Tuesday praising the Legislature for passing the proposal. It is part of a group called Missouri Farmers Care that is campaigning for the amendment's passage. That group has already raised $70,000, according to an April report with the Missouri Ethics Commission.