I was not going to do Scission today, but then a friend just told me about an amendment on the ballot here in Missouri. It is referred to as the "right to farm" amendment. It has about as much to do with the right to farm as "right to work" has to do with the right to work....and it is Global Capital in my backyard.
The ballot language for the proposed Right To Farm amendment (Amendment One) to the Missouri Constitution seems harmless enough: “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure that the right of Missouri citizens to engage in agricultural production and ranching practices shall not be infringed?”
Those who oppose the proposed Right To Farm amendment counter that far from protecting small family farms, the measure gives free rein to large corporate producers like Smithfield Foods to continue expanding without fear of ‘nuisance lawsuits’ over odors, flies, and runoff that are bound to be present when livestock are confined in the kinds of numbers only a large corporate operation can handle.
Did I forget to mention that here in Missouri we have some big problems with huge corporate hog farms and the like, with Monsanto gmo seeds, patents, and the like? The Amendment will give rights to large corporations to expand factory farms into rural areas without any regard to the health and well-being of the local residents.
It is important to note that a co-sponsor of “right to farm” was Rep. Jason Smith, whose family owns Smith’s Kennels, a puppy mill in Missouri. This bill was introduced after Proposition B was approved by Missouri voters; it's not hard to see Amendment 1 is simply payback for Proposition B.
That is small potatoes compared to what is actually going on here. You ain't heard nothing yet.
In fact, nothing says “Owned by Monsanto” like this proposed amendment. This proposed Constitutional Amendment will ensure that CAFO’s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) proliferate, and lay the ground for no holds barred transgenic manipulation and proliferation of ALL genetically engineered organisms in our State.
Truth Farmer comments,
In light of Monsanto being headquartered in St Louis as they are, and Monsanto’s roughly 90% control of the total crops in genetically modified corn and soy, having sold their GMO pig, and moving ever forward in patenting and mutating all life on the planet, that scares the heck out of me!
Would this proposed Amendment destroy any chance of our ever having a right to know if we are eating GMO products or not? It sure could be argued that letting people know what they are consuming would prohibit farmers from using some “modern” “technology” in their ag endeavors.
This bill is NOT good for farmers. It will greatly increase further consolidation of agriculture, increase proliferation of genetically modified patented life forms, and destroy local control of the spread of the consolidating (ie. Family Farm Destroying) CAFO’s.
There is only one segment of the population that this is “good” for. The Biotech and Mega Farm Corporations.
Missouri, of course, isn't the only farm state with such shenanigans going on. A quick look at Google by Margot Ford McMillen at Rural Routes found,
...three states with efforts for constitutional amendments similar to Missouri’s proposals. Another few keystrokes and I found the source of the language. It came from ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. And on the ALEC website, a few more clicks took me to the list of legislative members from Missouri.
In November 2012, North Dakota, a state besieged with fracking (and, yes, ALEC has policies and sample legislation favoring that subject also) passed a “right to farm” amendment into the constitution. Its language is eerily like the proposal in Missouri: The right of farmers and ranchers to engage in modern farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state. No law shall be enacted which abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production and ranching practices.
While you might think this guarantees farmers against the frackers, please note the seriously vague and troubling words “modern,” “technology,” and the confusing phrase “no law shall be enacted …” So, in North Dakota, no county, township, parish, city or any governmental body will be able to pass a law or ordinance to protect themselves from chemicals, GMOs, CAFOs or any other kind of industrial farming scheme.
Not only will farmers be affected. This amendment can have serious repercussions for consumers: North Dakota, one of our chief wheat-raising states, will not be able to refuse to plant untested (and untrusted) GMO wheat under this Constitutional clause.
The same sort of language is being considered in Montana, another primary wheat-raising state, and in Indiana, one of the buckles on the corn belt.
It is true, much of the drive behind the amendments has come from big corporations. Members of Missouri Farmers Care include Cargill—one of the nation’s largest processors of beef, pork, and turkey—and , as well as a long list of state agricultural industry associations. It is also a fact, that in 1996, the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, came up with model legislation that would expand existing right-to-farm laws to grant wide-ranging legal rights to farms of all sizes. ALEC’s bill, intended as a template for state politicians, voided local farm ordinances and made it harder to lodge complaints about animal mistreatment, pollution, and noise.
With friends like Monsanto, Cargill and Alec, hey, this amendment has got to be good...NOT.
Jake Davis, a farmer and co-owner of Root Cellar, a local food grocer, said Amendment 1 is wrong for the local farmers in Missouri. He told KOMU:
Even though this amendment has been labeled 'the freedom to farm amendment,' really this has very little to do with small family farmers. It has a lot more to do with big agribusiness and corporations looking for blanket immunity to take action that might otherwise be regulated by state statue or local ordinances.
The “Right to Farm” amendment will make it easier for corporate farms to make a profit by forcing the public to pay for environmental and health damage. Now it may only be factory farms that raise animals in horrible conditions that are protected. Protected because these conditions are hidden from view because our legislature passed an “ag-gag” bill making it a crime to reveal those inhumane practices. It may soon be factory farm corporations that destroy water supplies by exporting our ground water. The only restriction on water use is “Reasonable use requires that other users and landowners not be overly impacted in an adverse manner.” But the “Right to Farm” constitutional amendment would overrule this guideline and change what's reasonable and put a corporate farm's needs before those of real people. Family farms are not under threat except by corporate factory farms. “Right to Farm” will make it harder for citizens to get corporate factory farms to be good citizens.
What cannot be dismissed is the fear that purchasers of Monsanto seed must sign a contract dictating how it can be used. A license to use seed as we wish? Freedom to farm?
I am not as concerned about Amendment 1 protecting Monsanto’s practices as I am about it allowing corporate farming companies free rein to operate as they wish.
For example, I don’t want wake up one morning to find a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation) upstream or uphill from my farm.
CAFOs aren’t good neighbors to family farmers.
One example of corporate farming is Smithfield Foods, Inc. which was sold to the Chinese company Shuanghui last year.
Even before it was sold it was a menace to family farmers and not just because they can’t compete with it successfully. It is huge. It owns companies that produce foods we know from our supermarkets. There are too many to list.
Smithfield raises 15 million pigs on its own. It processes 27 million total, producing 6 billion pounds of pork per year.
In 1997, Smithfield was fined $12.6 million by the Environmental Protection Agency for 6,900 violations of clean water regulations. As an example, its slaughterhouses dumped huge amounts of waste into a river, polluting it. The damage to the river itself and area water supplies was immense.
The company didn’t do enough to guard against such a spill.
In 1999, Smithfield settled with North Carolina after it failed to contain water after Hurricane Floyd flooded its lagoons. It agreed to pay $50 million over 25 years as a fine and $1.3 million to clean up its mess.
I don’t want Smithfield, or any other mega-corporations, especially those owned by the Chinese, from building a factory farm next to mine. I don’t want hog waste flowing from my shower heads and kitchen faucets.
And remember, Smithfield is but one of many industrial farmers. There are an estimated 500 large hog operations in the river valley Smithfield polluted alone.
I also don’t want Roundup or some other herbicide or insecticide sprayed over my home and farm by air.
How could these things happen? Amendment 1 protects the farming practices of corporate farmers absolutely.
All farming and ranching practices are guaranteed forever? The right to build factory farms--including those with thousands of hogs confined next to family farms? Spraying poison over our homes and farms that can also drift over towns? Protected absolutely and forever? Do we want that?
Factory farms could flaunt present regulations concerning the air we breathe and the water we drink. The amendment seems to clear the way to do legally what they already do illegally.
I don't usually get involved in electoral issues, but this one is close to home, and this one is actually a good example of why I don't. Representative democracy or whatever you want to call what we have here in the USA is a joke and a lie. This proposed amendment and the subterfuge being used to pass it is a good example.
As the Kansas City Star writes:
The uninitiated voter reading that ballot language will understandably be confused. Is farming in Missouri in trouble?
It is not. Agriculture in Missouri is a profitable industry. Amendment 1 is a concerted effort to shield factory farms and concentrated agricultural feeding operations from regulations to protect livestock, consumers and the environment.
The following is from Wolf Creek Family Farm.