WASHINGTON, August 6, 2014 – Missouri voters approved a controversial “Right to Farm” provision, on the ballot as “amendment one” by a narrow margin on Tuesday. The measure passed by 2,528 votes out of almost 995,000 cast and some opponents are already calling for a recount.
Led by Missouri Farm Bureau and other agricultural groups, rural voters appeared to pour out in droves in an attempt to overcome a strong turnout against “amendment one” in St. Louis and other urban areas in the state. In St. Louis, where opponents like the Humane Society of the U.S. advertised heavily against the measure, the amendment was defeated by a huge margin, with 122,066 “no” votes versus 65,549 approving the measure.
However, the margins were much narrower in Kansas City and surrounding areas, where voter turnout in general was lower. The amendment was defeated by 23,025 “no” votes in Kansas City, opposed to 14,160 who voted in favor.
Thus far, North Dakota is the only other state where voters have approved farming as a constitutional right.
The measure would change the Missouri constitution to read:
“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 farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state, subject to duly authorized powers, if any, conferred by article VI of the Constitution of Missouri.”
The amendment was supported by dozens of Missouri agricultural organizations that comprise Missouri Farmers Care as well as organizations such as the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, Missouri Grocers Association, Missouri Vocational Ag Teachers Association and the Columbia Chamber of Commerce.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster made a series of campaign stops around the state offering support for the measure. In addition, the measure was supported by Sen. Roy Blunt and Congressmen Emanual Cleaver, Vicky Hartzler, Sam Graves, Billy Long, Jason Smith, and Ann Wagner. State Auditor tom Schweich and Secretary of State Jason Kander also supported Amendment One.
Opponents of the amendment claimed that it would encourage foreign ownership of farms and allow farmers to evade existing regulations. They included Joe Maxwell, former lieutenant governor of Missouri and now Vice President, Outreach and Engagement for HSUS, and former Missouri senator Wes Shoemyer, Missouri's Food for America president and an HSUS advisor.
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