Former Missouri Lieutenant Governor Joe Maxwell says the ‘Right to Farm’ question before voters in August would give more protection to foreign corporations and take away from small farmers.
Maxwell, a Democrat, told reporters in Springfield Tuesday that Amendment 1 will give more liberty to corporations to buy and operate Missouri farmland.
“Constitutions are for the people by the people, not for the corporations by corporations. And take a hard look at this. Ask yourself, should we be giving in our Bill of Rights in Missouri’s Constitution the right to farm to large corporations, multi-national corporations across this state?” Maxwell asked.
The remarks came before a scheduled debate Wednesday in Joplin on the issue, which originally pitted Maxwell against Republican Bill Reiboldt, who sponsored the bill that got the proposed amendment on the ballot.
But the Neosho representative has withdrawn from the debate. The Joplin Globe reports Reidboldt was asked not to participate by Missouri Farmers Care, a major backer of the amendment, citing Maxwell’s position as an officer of the Humane Society of the U.S.
“Shame on the Missouri Farmers Care who wanna to keep the people in the dark about what this really does,” Maxwell said Tuesday. Shame on their donors who are the largest corporations in this country who are funding this effort. Shame on them. This is the people’s constitution. They shouldn’t be screwing with it by giving corporations the same rights.”
Neither Reidboldt nor Missouri Farmers Care responded to KSMU’s request for comment Tuesday.
The organization’s Vice President Alan Wessler recently told St. Louis Public Radio that Amendment 1 will help prevent lawsuits from activist groups that “don’t understand animal agriculture or crop production.” And Reidboldt has previously contended that the amendment gives farmers the right to continue operations “without being disrupted from the outside.”
Amendment 1 appears on the August 5 ballot.
KSMU's Taylor Brim contributed to this report.