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June 10, 2014

Missourians Urged to Vote No on “Right to Farm” Measure

Measure, backed by lawmakers who tried to repeal 2010 voter-approved measure to crack down on inhumane puppy mills, is extreme and could bar future attempts to restore Prop B standards or to regulate foreign-owned factory farms

The Humane Society of the United States is joining forces with Missouri’s Food for America and other family farmers and concerned citizens in urging Missouri voters to oppose Constitutional Amendment 1, misleadingly named the “Right to Farm” measure. The amendment seeks to prohibit laws in Missouri that restrict industrialized agriculture and factory farms, including the “farming” of dogs in puppy mills.  

Contrary to its name, Constitutional Amendment 1 does not protect Missouri’s traditional family farms, which are already well protected by a 1982 statewide right to farm law. By forbidding any state rules to regulate agriculture, Measure 1 allows big agribusiness to write its own rules with no oversight. If passed, foreign corporations will have absolute authority over Missourians’ farm land and any animals on it indefinitely.  Inhumane puppy mill operators will also use this law as cover to evade any attempts by state or local lawmakers to combat puppy mills within the state.

Melanie Kahn, senior director of the Stop Puppy Mills campaign for The HSUS said: “Amendment 1 is being pushed by special interests who didn’t like it when Missouri voters decided to crack down on abusive puppy mills. The puppy mills want immunity under the terms of the ‘Right to Farm’ measure.”

Known as the puppy mill capital of America, Missouri is home to 22 large-scale commercial dog breeders on The HSUS’ recent report detailing101 problem puppy mills across the country.

Amendment 1 will also result in costly litigation over what farming practices are allowed. If someone wants to raise goats for meat in some of Missouri’s towns and communities, he could claim it’s his constitutional right and sue to overturn local zoning restrictions. Only the courts will decide if the “Right to Farm” includes raising dogs, cats, horses, or other animals for food. The only thing protected by Amendment 1 will be more business for lawyers.

Former Sen. Wes Shoemyer, D-Clarence (18), said, “Missourians can have a healthy debate whether or not foreign corporations and large multinational agribusiness concerns should be able to own our farm land. But writing it into our state constitution is a radical and anti-democratic step that prevents legislators and voters from having any future say on issues relating to farmland, animal welfare and our environment. Missouri’s Food for America is pleased to have The HSUS join the cause to preserve our rights.”

BACKGROUND:

  • Missouri’s Food for America is a broad coalition of family farmers, environmentalists, food safety advocates, animal welfare organizations and concerned citizens that recognize the long-lasting, damaging effects of the “Right to Farm” measure. It works to educate and urge the public to vote “no” on the amendment.
  • In 2010, Missouri passed Proposition B, a voter-approved initiative petition that limited the number of breeding dogs a business can own. It also set new requirements for cage space, feeding and veterinary care.
  • Agricultural groups and rural Republicans began pushing for Constitutional Amendment 1 after the passage of Proposition B.
  • Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has moved the ballot measure from November to August 5.
  • For more information about puppy mills and the work of The HSUS to end them, visit humanesociety.org/issues/puppymills. To find out more about Missouri’s Food for America, go to votenoon1.com

Media Contact: Cheylin Parker; cparker@humanesociety.org, 301-258-1505

Paid for by The Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, CEO, 2100 L Street NW, Washington, DC 20037

 

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