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Missouri farming amendment on August ballot sparks discussion - KOAM TV 7

Missouri farming amendment on August ballot sparks discussion

Updated:
 The Humane Society of the United States has come out in opposition to a farming amendment on the Missouri August ballot.

Supporters say it would guarantee that the right to farm in the state is not infringed by outside groups, but some opponents fear it could jeopardize animal protection.

State lawmakers say Missouri's farming amendment is comparable to the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution.

"It's further protection," said state representative Bill Reiboldt, District 160.  "It's similar to the right to bear arms."

"This will do the same thing, it will ensure that our family farmers and our other farmers have the ability to raise crops and to provide the essential jobs that our state needs," said state representative Charlie Davis, District 128.

Lawmakers say the amendment will also save jobs and maintain affordable food prices.

The amendment states, "the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state."

Lawmakers say this wording will provide protection going into the future, from entities outside the state that could come in and try to regulate what Missouri farmers do.

"I personally don't believe that it's any other outside entity's responsibility to come into Missouri and tell us how we need to run our show," Davis said.

Lawmakers say agriculture is the number one industry in the state of Missouri and the state also ranks 2nd in the nation for the highest number of farms.

Animal advocates say the constitutional protection would also protect farmers and animal breeders from outside entities trying to step in and stop animal abuse.

"When they raise animals in big quantities, just like any commercial breeding facilities, you're going to have laxer laws and they will be able to do this without being subject to prosecution by anybody," said Mary Ann Schlau, animal advocate.

Lawmakers argue protecting farmers from outside entities does not mean animal abusers will be protected.

"It will not protect the bad people," Reiboldt said.  "If they don't take care of their animals, then I'm going to be the first to holler."

Outside organizations like the Humane Society of the United States are concerned, however, about what protections are in place for animals.

Opponents also fear the amendment could jeopardize animals at kennels, but supporters stress that animal mistreatment would not be protected.

Again, the issue goes to Missouri voters in August.
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