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Douglas County Opinions – Jon Wilson Pro Amendment 1 “Right to Farm”

As we approach the upcoming primary, Missourians are facing several ballot measures. One of particular interest to my family is Amendment 1, The Right to Farm.

We have resided in rural Douglas County for the past 13 years raising livestock on our farm. It is a way of life we have chosen and hope to pass on to our sons someday. We enjoy our ability to raise livestock, the opportunity to have a garden, ability to bale hay, the option to combine fescue, and a variety of other practices that take place on our farm without outside interests groups trying to regulate our practices.

From my visits with the authors of Amendment 1 and the Senate Agriculture Committee members, it is my understanding this amendment is the result of the passing of a ballot initiative that took place in Missouri 4 years ago. This ballot initiative was proposition B.

A brief reminder of what proposition B was:

Proposition B, coined “The puppy mill initiative,” sounded great on face value. It was sold to the public as a humane measure that would prevent animal abuse. But further inspection revealed the fact this new law did little to help puppies. Instead the initiative increased fees (from $500 to $2500) for breeders, limited the number of dogs a breeder could own, and required every animal to be inspected twice a year by a veterinarian (this is a shortened list, four more items were imposed). The actual language did nothing to control animal abuse; instead it limited production numbers while increasing inputs, potentially driving licensed Missouri producers out of business.

Proposition B was primarily funded by the Humane Society of the United States. Looking into the funding, it was found the majority of the funds were from out of state interests. So basically, groups in New York, California, and Florida with no ties to Missouri were telling Missouri residents what they could and could not do on their property.

My understanding of Amendment 1 is that it was created to prevent this from ever happening again. It is designed to protect the small farmer and the large operations. It is intended to allow you to raise livestock without being restricted by out of state interest groups. It has the purpose of allowing you to utilize safe, environmental, and humane agriculture practices without the impediment of groups whose only interest is to stop animal agriculture. These out of state groups are well funded and push misinformation to pass heavy regulations and restrictions that have the potential to drive the small farmer out of business. Amendment 1 promotes Missouri agriculture and sustains the ability for families to continue farming just as they have in the past, being good stewards of the land and quality herdsmen for their livestock.

I have been asked “how will Amendment 1 affect corporate farms and foreign interest?” In my research I have found that Amendment 1 will not give an open door to Corporate Farms. State statutes are already in place addressing this concern. Amendment 1 will not open the door for foreign interest groups to buy up Missouri farmland. Again, state law has limitation on foreign interests and their ability to farm in Missouri. Amendment 1 will not interfere with county or city government and their abilities to regulate agriculture activity.   Local governments will still have the same powers they currently have.   Amendment 1 does not exempt from the law those who practice inhumane and unhealthy methods on their farms, nor do we, as Missouri agriculturists, condone them, but it does guarantee that farmers and ranchers who abide by the law can continue to do so without excessive regulation that is intended to put a halt to the bad actors in agriculture.

As I looked at the opposition to Amendment 1, I found the same names showing up as in Proposition B. Listed on their website for vote no on 1( you will find: The Humane Society of the United States, The Sierra Club, Missouri Coalition for the Environment, Animal Legal Defense Club, and Great Plains SPCA are the supporting force behind the opposition to Amendment 1. One of the main tactics of these groups is to supply misinformation to sway public opinion to their favor. In doing so, they can then successfully achieve their ultimate goals of stopping animal agriculture all together.

Amendment 1 is designed to protect the farmers of Douglas County and the State of Missouri. It was written to ensure that the future of farming would not be hindered by relentless groups constantly throwing roadblocks in the way of agriculture production funded by an unending supply of dollars from out of state interest groups. Amendment 1 gives me the opportunity to pass on the traditions of life that I choose to my sons. It allows my children the opportunity to choose a lifestyle shared by so many in our community, farming. Amendment 1 is our chance to guarantee farming for future generations. Without any guidelines for legislators and the courts (which is the purpose of an amendment to the constitution) farmers and ranchers will continue to be easy targets. Missouri’s farmers and ranchers aren’t looking for trouble, but we can no longer be opaque. We simply want to continue providing affordable food and resources while promoting consumer choice and, most importantly, food safety. Passing Amendment 1 is what Missouri agriculture needs to be as efficient and ethical as possible.

As with any ballot measure, information is key. Please take the time to research the information. Find a farmer and ask questions. The more educated we become, the less our emotions override our decisions.

Jon Wilson

Livestock Producer

Douglas County