Right to Farm Debate Presses On

By Linda Ong | long@kolr10.com

Published 07/18 2014 09:41PM

Updated 07/18 2014 10:20PM

Marshfield, Mo. -- In less than three weeks, Missourians will vote on several proposed constitutional amendments including the Right to Farm.

As weeks turn into days before voters will cast their ballot, many are still divided on what the amendment will do and why its necessary.

"I believe this amendment will protect me, it'll protect my family, it'll protect my neighbors and Missouri agriculture as a whole," said Dan Haynes, a fifth-generation family farmer.

"I'm fearful that this amendment is so vague that it will open doors that we have no idea," said Susan Tolliver, a beef and dairy farmer.

The Right to Farm legislation would give the agriculture industry constitutional protection-- guaranteeing farmers and ranchers the right to engage in farming and ranching practices.

U.S. Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-Missouri) and other supporters held a town hall in Marshfield to discuss the proposal.

"I think this amendment is simple and it just puts a basic right to farming in Missouri's constitution," said Hartzler.

Hartzler said the legislation is necessary.

"There's an increasing amount of people in this country, organizations who have a lot of money want to restrict the ways that farmers and ranchers raise their crops and raise their livestock and increase the cost on the basic consumer," she said. "And we don't want to see that happen."

Haynes said the amendment will protect farmers when agricultural laws are interpreted by the courts.

"This amendment will ensure that their right to farm, that their right won't be infringed," said Haynes.

But opponents say farmers have been operating for decades without these protections.

"We already have the right to farm by state statute," said Tolliver.

Tolliver said the vagueness of amendment would ultimately hurt farmers' ability to produce and provide food.

"I feel that this is just an open door for foreign corporations to come in and buy even more Missouri farmland and I also feel like it is opening the door for big agribusiness to come in and build in unsuitable places and build confined animal operations," said Tolliver.

The issue will be on the August 5th ballot as amendment one to the state constitution.

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