Missouri voters passed Amendment One to the state’s constitution Tuesday by an extremely narrow margin. The so-called “Right to Farm” amendment won by just over 2,500 votes and could be subject to a recount. KSMU’s Alissa Zhu has the reaction.
The most hotly contested measure on Tuesday’s ballot barely won--by less than one half of a percentage point.
“We knew going in that it was going to be tight,” said Dave Drennan.
Drennan is the executive director of the Missouri Dairy Association, one of the 40 mainstream agriculture groups in the state that supported Amendment One.
“I think it gives us a significant step forward. Not only for the folks who are farming and ranching in the state right now but for future generations,” Drennan said.
Larry Zahn, the owner of Crescent Feed Company in Springfield, said the best thing that Amendment One can bring for people like himself is stability.
“Hopefully, we really just don’t see much change for the farming industry if they can go about conducting their business and not have to worry about outside interests attempting to dictate how they operate,” Zahn said.
Putting “the Right to Farm” into a state’s constitution is somewhat of an unprecedented move—only North Dakota has made right to farm part of its constitution. This amendment could set an example for other agriculture-centric states.
“I’m very concerned with how this will impact Missourians because we will be one of the very few states that will have constitutional protections for the largest corporations, agricultural corporations in this country as well as the world,” Nichols said.
Sheila Nichols, with Missouri’s Food for America, said she is worried about how small farmers will be able to hold up against large agriculture corporations under the new provision in the constitution.
“I think that it sends a very large message across the field that Missouri state and our lands, our farmland is up for grabs. Very disappointing result but our coalition will keep fighting for Missouri’s family farmers, animals and the environment. Despite being outspent two to one, we came back from being way down in the polls and I think we made a great showing last night,” Nichols said.
Laura Umphenour, a volunteer with Vote No on Amendment One, expressed concern that the amendment would undermine the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act and allow for foreign corporations to buy out large swatches of farmland in Missouri.
All eyes will continue to be on Missouri as the state navigates its way through what it means to have the right to farm.