Thursday, July 24, 2014


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?”

Sounds, okay, but who knew Missouri citizens didn't have the right to farm anyway?

The bill's supporters claim the measure will protect small farmers from the likes of animal rights groups.

The Linn County Leader notes though all is not so clear:

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.

Richard Halinski makes writes in a letter to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, 

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.

Like many who live in cities and urban areas (and even rural areas) of the state, I didn't know much of anything about this bill.  In Kansas City, interestingly, the supposedly progressive, inner city Democratic political  organization, Freedom Inc., endorses the bill.  In fact, it was a member of the group, a Democrat, who cast the deciding vote to put the bill on the ballot.  The group has put out much material encouraging those living in urban Kansas City to support the amendment.  Many likely will having no idea what they are voting for.

Democracy in action.  You betya.

Moving on.

The primary beneficiary of right to farm amendments would be large corporately-controlled, industrial operations. At the very least, a constitutional “right to farm” would lead to endless, costly litigation which corporate agriculture believes they could win. The corporations’ commitment is to their stockholders, not to consumers, farmers, or rural communities. Corporate agriculture does not provide food for the 20 percent of American children who live in “food insecure” homes or hungry people developing countries, many of whom have been driven from their subsistence farms by agricultural industrialization. 

Oh well.

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 Monsanto (MON), 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.

Missouri's Right to Farm amendment is, in fact, modeled after the ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) model bill given to legislators across the country. (Jason Smith, former state representative, was co-chair of ALEC in Missouri.) ALEC serves corporate interests and major funding comes from the Koch brothers. The recent action of the Missouri Legislature in passing HB 650, which limits the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded to plaintiffs against the Doe Run Company (responsible for years of lead pollution in Herculaneum, Mo.), is another example of Missouri legislators  serving corporate interests as they talk about jobs. Doe Run knew of the pollution and continues to ruin the health of the people who live near its smelter, now located in Peru.

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.

Opines the West Plains Daily Quill,
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.

Amendment 1 will not give farmers protection from Monsanto lawsuits. It won’t protect farmers from multinational, billion-dollar ag corporations. In fact, the amendment will    provide an almost impenetrable wall of protection for corporate agri-business to do whatever it wants, however it wants, wherever it wants.  The amendment will  help shield large industrial dairies, feedlots, and slaughterhouses from environmental and food safety regulations—and curb lawsuits from people who get sick from the rivers of noxious animal waste they produce.

One small Missouri farmer, Frank L. Martin III, speaking for many others recently wrote:

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.

Read more here:

Read more here:

The following is from Wolf Creek Family Farm.

Vote NO on Missouri Amendment 1 – “Right to Harm” not “Right to Farm”

Vote No on Missouri Amendment 1
Right to Farm should not include the Right to Harm
Several of you have asked about our opinion on Missouri Amendment 1, the “Right to Farm” amendment.  We know it sounds like something we would be supporting, but it’s exactly the opposite.  We are encouraging all of you to vote NO on Missouri Amendment 1.
At first glance, the wording of the amendment (and what will be on the ballot) sounds encouraging: “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?”  This does not tell you the true content of the amendment. Voters are simply asked to vote “yes” or “no” on the above language, which sounds like a good thing.
However, let’s look at the actual amendment, which contains two Resolutions, nos. 11 and 7.  Here is the verbatim wording from those Resolutions (I’ve bolded the passages that are most concerning to us):
Resolution 7:  “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 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 and modern livestock production and ranching practices.
Resolution 11:  “That agriculture, which provides food, energy, and security, is thefoundation and stabilizing force of Missouri’s economy. To protect this vital sector ofMissouri’s economy, it shall be the right of persons to raise livestock in a humane mannerwithout the state imposing an undue economic burden on animal ownersNo lawcriminalizing the welfare of any livestock shall be valid unless based upon generallyaccepted scientific principles and enacted by the general assembly.”
There are no definitions provided in the language of these bills; “agricultural technology” usually means the biotech industry, including genetically modified plants and animals (they’ve already come up with spider goats… what’s next?).  “Modern livestock production” generally includes confined operations, including chickens in warehouses, pigs in farrowing crates, cattle in feedlots.
This does NOT protect family farms.  This does NOT protect sustainable farmers or those who believe in the welfare of their animals.  This allows corporate and large farms to use all the GMOs, pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers they want without anyone being able to say anything against it.  This allows CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations) to operate freely without the ability for anyone to argue against their practices or try to enact laws that restrict their harmful practices without getting a multitude of the scientific community to back them (And, if the state decided to have cats and dogs fall under the livestock category, puppy mills would be protected, too).  This protects producers of GMO technology (i.e. Monsanto, Syngenta, etc.) and destroys the ability of sustainable and organic growers to protect themselves against what they call “agricultural technology.”  This leads to air pollution, water pollution, and so much more.
This could allow the government to later mandate practices that are completely out of line with our growing ideals, like requiring the irradiation of our produce before we offer it for sale.  It could prevent our ability to save seed or preserve livestock bloodlines.  We would have no recourse against genetically altered crops that infiltrate our fields.  It will further jeopardize the ability of small farms to compete in an open market and lead to more of them going bankrupt.
The rights of Missouri farmers are already, inherently, protected.  It’s the corporations and big ag special interests that are taking that away from us.  This, from the Joplin Globe:
Darvin Bentlage, a Barton County farmer, made a compelling case in this newspaper that what’s threatening small, independent family farms is big ag — corporate ag — which is what some critics think this amendment is designed to protect.
“I remember our right to farm when we didn’t have to sign a grower’s contract to buy seed, a document telling us what we could and couldn’t do with what we grew on our farm,” Bentlage argued. “I remember when family farmers could load their own feeder pigs in their truck and go to the local auction and sell their livestock in an open and competitive market. So who’s taken this right to farm away from us? It is the same corporate factory farm supporters, corporations and organizations that have pushed this constitutional amendment through the Missouri Legislature.”

The ballot question asks, “Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure the right of Missouri citizens to engage in agricultural production and ranging practices shall not be infringed?”
Infringed by whom? What practices? And who qualifies as a farmer in Missouri?
Smithfield Foods, for example, owner of Premium Standard Farms? How about Tyson Foods? Both of those are Fortune 500 companies that count their revenue in the billions.
Which Tyson practice “shall not be infringed,” the one that left more than 100,000 dead fish in Clear Creek this spring?
It’s Missouri that may need protection from big ag.
We can’t state it any more plainly.  Please, please, please, pass the word to your friends and neighbors.  Vote NO on Missouri Amendment 1.  The right to farm should not include the right to harm.
Karin and Arcenio Velez


KCTomato said...

If amend 1 passes in Mo and Monsanto did this here, this kind of case may be overlooked.

Soul Empress said...

Ode to Monsanto..... Maimouna Youssef