Amendment 1 passes in Missouri
By Katherine Kelly, executive director
Yesterday, in a primary election in which fewer than one third of the state’s eligible voters participated, Missouri became the second state in the country to put the “right to farm” in the state constitution. Farmers, consumers and people concerned about the humane treatment of livestock worked side by side to oppose the amendment, but the no-votes fell short by 2,528 votes.
While we lost on the amendment, the fact that the vote was so close, especially in a primary election, is a strong statement that people are paying attention to the manipulation of the agriculture and food industry by corporate interests. In talking to small farmers and in phone banking, Cultivate Kansas City staff and volunteers heard, over and over again, that people knew that this amendment wasn’t about supporting real farmers. The fact that so many voters saw through the amendment’s slick and vague language is, even with the loss, a testament to the growing numbers of people who are thinking critically about their food system.
With the state constitution now prohibiting local, state, and, quite likely, federal laws regulating any practices that could be determined to be farming or ranching, and, with the electorate functionally barred from proposing any legislative action pertaining to farming or ranching, we anticipate that big-ag will see Missouri as a wild west, where there are no pesky laws to interfere with the pursuit of profit. This will be the challenge in the years to come – containing the damage that an unregulated industry dominated by corporate farms and ranches may create.
In the face of this, grassroots organizations like Cultivate Kansas City, the Missouri Farmers Union, Missouri Rural Crisis Center, and the Kansas City Food Circle will keep doing what we do – pushing for a safe, fair, and sustainable food system that works for farmers and for the communities we feed. The agriculture of the future has to be a partnership between growers and community members – this amendment is trying to break that alliance, but we know the power of our movement and of our ultimate goal of creating a food system we can trust. Advocates and practitioners of organic, local, environmentally sound agriculture are beginning to change our food system at levels that are increasingly significant and far-reaching. We are getting this level of pushback because we are beginning to win.
We are grateful to all those voters who showed up and voted NO; we are grateful to those of you who talked to your friends and co-workers about this legislation, who re-tweeted, re-posted, and shared with others about the issues at stake with this legislation! Together, we mobilized an impressive response to this amendment and all those individuals we reached know more today and will pay more attention tomorrow to where their food comes from and how it is produced. Together, we did good work on this and together, we will continue to fight and to grow.